Every social network says it wants to be a place for people to gather, communicate and act. Neither imagined what it would be like to be at the centre of American politics, a lack of imagination, to put it mildly.
Musical.ly, a lip-syncing app that became popular among teenagers in 2018, two years after the "America first" era was heralded, was recently acquired by Chinese technology group bytedance and incorporated into TikTok (it is known as douyin in the domestic Chinese market). The result was a short video-sharing platform that combined Instagram, Snapchat and Vine (now defunct) and was hugely successful with powerful recommendation algorithms. Its success -- it claims to have far more daily active users than Twitter, for example -- has also taken the tech industry by surprise, even though bytebeat has spent heavily to advertise its app on us platforms and videos made on TikTok have spread across rival networks such as Instagram.
At least its American form is the first post-trump social network. So what do its users think of the President?
If you want to piss off liberals...
If someone says that Donald trump "rules" TikTok, or that there is an unusually large amount of pro-trump content on the app, that is not true or likely. (besides, the only politician who regularly appears on TikTok is Arnold Schwarzenegger.) You feel like everything you see on this app is "dominating" TikTok because you're almost not sure why you're looking at it.
The first thing you notice about trumpworld on TikTok is the hat. It's no accident -- they're often the subject of videos. "Don't take eighth-graders to Washington," warns a smiling teenager in a "restore American greatness" hat. Then the camera cuts to her classmates, who also flash their hats.
California, said another young man, sitting in the driver's seat of his truck with a MAGA hat on the dashboard. "Let's see if we can make some friends." There are small items everywhere: t-shirts, flags, stickers. The trump-related TikTok video provides plenty of examples of how the actual user understands the President's various logos, slogans and branded items. With the opening chords of "Bad to the Bone," we see a pair of boots, then the back of a car. The guitars blared out, and we saw a new bumper sticker: the skull of the marvel Punisher, with the American flag folded and Donald trump-like hair.
“到加利福尼亞了，”另一個年輕人說，他坐在自己的卡車駕駛座上，儀表盤上放著MAGA帽。“我們看看能不能交點朋友。”到處都是小商品：T恤、旗幟、貼紙。和Trump有關的TikTok視頻提供了大量例子，讓人們可以看到實際使用者是如何理解總統的各種標識、口號和品牌物品的。伴隨著《天生壞種》(Bad to the Bone)開始部分的和弦，我們看到一雙靴子，然后是一輛汽車的后部。吉他聲響亮起來，我們看到一個新的保險杠貼紙：漫威人物懲罰者(Punisher)的骷髏標志，上面疊著美國國旗，并留著近似唐納德·特朗普的頭發。
The most popular Trump support hashtags on TikTok are clear: #MAGA (restoring American greatness), #Trump. According to the platform, a dozen of the more popular tags have garnered tens of millions of hits, while countless smaller ones have accumulated tens or hundreds of thousands of hits. As with most social networks in 2019, there are conspiracy theorists and nazis close to the edge. Generally, these labels are not a place for conflict or debate. No debate or dialogue, just participation. They are not really communities, or even places. They are safe Spaces for people to laugh at "safe Spaces". They were actually having an anonymous intimate gathering. So this is... Rally?
Huge aerial focus groups
Open TikTok and You'll see a "For You" page, which is the app's best guess at what You might want to see, rather than offering your friend's content. Like any social app, it encourages you to interact with people you know, but it's really encouraging you to participate in the broader trend, to join the popular tag; Lip-syncing to songs or videos of speeches and performing along with them; Try to find a theme or trend you can participate in whenever you have time. TikTok allows people to participate in a variety of activities, not just post to friends, so users can also see things like the pleasures of other people's mundane jobs.
Here's TikTok's trumpworld: an adult looks at the camera and says in a high-pitched, off-key voice, "you can't get rid of drugs," but "want me to give up my weapon?"
TikTok is good at capturing users' content not because friends are watching them, or because intimacy and privacy are protected in a smaller social environment, but because of its chaotic scale and bustling updating. Add a tag! Sing a song! No one can see! Well, there may be thousands or even millions of people who can see it, but they don't know who you are, so what's the big deal?
Many of the most popular posts on TikTok are new versions of familiar viral content: witty, catchy, fun ideas, little pieces of music, one after another, until they finally dry up. There are, of course, carefully crafted pro-trump TikTok content: quick debates with imaginary liberals, jokes about the "snow generation" and a variety of slogans and political aphorisms (" want to be mad at conservatives, lie to him; Want to pout at the liberals and tell him the truth ") and come up with bumper sticker rhetorical questions (the equivalent of reading a Facebook meme out loud, sometimes in voice-over).
Videos of wearing MAGA hats, and others like them, do seem to be unique to the platform. One college student posted videos of him putting on a pro-trump hat and saying, "it's time to go to class." "Or" this is a good day for college trump supporters." He "wanted to make sure everyone understood his position"; He displayed a MAGA hat in his dodge ram and a trump flag in what appeared to be his front yard. One young woman excitedly Shared her new hat -- "trump 2020" -- but she had to keep it down because her baby was asleep. Another man in a hat said, "I'm going to offend someone today. Are you ready? Trump." He told the story of the postman angered by his hat, as if to a sympathetic audience.
Despite alluding to risk and conflict, the general consensus is that trump supporters on TikTok seem to be acting alone and at peace, apparently enjoying their lives. They are describing dangerous, or at least risky, transgression, but they are expressing joy and, more often, contempt. The campus campaigner never interacted with students who disagreed with him. Snowflakes, a common topic of conversation, never appear to defend themselves or even complain. We don't see anyone complaining about the brand new MAGA bumper sticker. (we do, however, see a self-described "k-9 and SWAT officer" joking with a civilian out the window about her car being "damaged" by a Clinton sticker in his selfie.)
What TikTok has gathered, in other words, is an unflattering representation of a President whose appeal, in the eyes of a particular group of supporters, comes from the increasingly salient fact that his power makes some people angry; Someone should, or at least someone should, tell these angry people that they are overreacting; If they are judging the President, there is no difference between what they say and what his supporters say.
It's trumpism without conflict, a consensus among a group that considers itself a dissenter, even though it's actually supporting the President, and it's supported by the President. They are a powerful force in 21st-century American and global politics, and this is their celebration, reflected in a Chinese video app for teenagers. The point is that I should be able to ask, "who are you?" and say, "I dare you!" while at the same time expressing support for the most powerful man in the world.