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Media captionWATCH: What is TikTok?
Have you seen the viral video where a gummy bear choir sings the catchy chorus of Someone like you, from Adele?
Or maybe the odd sight of people making up potatoes?
Or maybe you have been on the move and someone has shouted at you "Hit or miss" inexplicably?
These seemingly unrelated experiences all have one thing in common: they are memes about TikTok, the abbreviated video application that you may not have heard of if you are over 35 years old.
For those who use it, it's a big problem and the app seeks to extend its reach to new demographic data all the time.
Owned by the Chinese Internet company Bytedance, the application was launched in China in 2016 under the name of Douyin and reached 100 million users in a single year, with a billion views a day.
It became the most downloaded application in China and Thailand in early 2018 and, in October, was the third most downloaded application in the world.
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Reuters / Getty Images
Gummy Bears singing a song from Adele was a big hit for TikTok
And it did not work well either in the West, with 80 million downloads in the United States.
In 2017, Bytedance bought Musical.ly – another short video music app that parents of young children may be familiar with – raising awareness and adding 30 million more users.
It now has more than half a billion active users, 40% of whom are out of China.
Videos created on TikTok typically do not last more than 15 seconds – although they have recently experimented with longer clips and some star users are allowed to create videos up to 59 seconds in length. Ads have also recently been spotted on the site, looking for ways to monetize its content.
All clips are based on themes such as music, cooking, dance or fashion.
Previously, Bytedance had focused on the news, with an application called Toutiao, which used artificial intelligence algorithms to find out user preferences. The same AI is used to provide relevant videos to TikTok users.
Musical.ly, loved pre-teen children, brought a new generation of users to TikTok
TikTok offers many clever special effects, such as an editing tool that allows users to move objects with their minds.
"TikTok has leveraged a successful model of user-generated content by making professional-quality video creation simple and accessible," said Paul Barnes, general manager of the App Annie Analysis Company.
And although it's not the first of its kind, do you remember Vine? – it has turned out to be much more durable.
"Vine popularized the video format in abbreviated format, but it was much harder to create a quality video.You were really left to yourself and you needed a high level of technical skill, as well as the Interpreter talent, to create something wanted to watch, "said Mr. Barnes.
"In contrast, TikTok's editing features and the relatively simple nature of lip sync make creating original video content easier than ever before."
TikTok is often applauded for being one of the few happy places on the Internet – its silly video clips contrast with YouTube's darker content.
It may not last, says Charlotte McEleny, publisher of the marketing magazine The Drum.
"No platform generated by the user, or primarily user-driven, will ever be as clean.What it can and must do, is learn from these mistakes made previously because it is difficult for these platforms to find a balance self-expression, while also wanting to protect users from inappropriate content. "
Who uses TikTok?
Sophie is 12 years old (so theoretically not old enough to use the application that is officially reserved for 13 years and over). Like many young people, she came via Musical.ly and got parental permission to use TikTok. She says that she used it more when it was Musical.ly, but likes the ephemeral nature of its content.
"You can continue for a minute, the videos last 15 seconds, so you can watch a lot in a short time," she said.
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Munavar Zeb does not participate in the challenges because they require a lot of creativity and take a lot of time to do
Munavar Zeb is 32 years old and lives in the Indian city of Surat. He's been on TikTok for over a year and likes to post videos of himself, only on a Sunday, his only day off.
"I think the bottom line is that we can play, dance, sing and do what we do best in front of a camera and download the same content to be loved by the whole world and finally become famous, "he said. BBC
"I do not know everyone but, yes, I am very happy and happy when my video appeals to someone."
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Laurie Elle checks the application every day and is involved in some of the challenges
Laurie Elle is a 20 year old Manchester girl who has over 2.5 million subscribers on TikTok. She has been invited to attend some of her offline events. As a dancer, she mainly uses it to share dance videos.
She says that she finds the application very easy to use. "You can shoot videos directly from your phone and add effects in the application, you do not need any professional equipment to use TikTok.
"Application trends are also very popular, fun and easy to get in. It gives everyone the opportunity to share their own content and be creative," she said.
She told the BBC that although the application is largely free of "negative content", it is the online space where she personally receives "comments and messages". more negative ", although TikTok has the option to disable them.
Whether we like it or hate it, it might soon become hard to avoid, in part because every time a meme or clip of the app appears on the Web, the brand is tattooed on it with people invited to visit the site, an effective marketing tip. makes its name stand out among the ton of anonymous web content.
That, and the fact that it has focused on one thing – the user-oriented video – could mean that Bytedance can realize what larger rival platforms, such as Tencent and Baidu, have not done yet: penetrate the consciousness of Western users.
"It's worth noting that something so determined did that, about WeChat's huge success in China." Many people looked at WeChat and thought it would be the application crossover, "said McEleny.
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Why has tumbleweed become a challenge for nine million people?
"While most young Chinese will order, pay and socialize constantly, this behavior has not translated as well in Europe and America."
TikTok is touted for its visibility in America when its American talk show host, Jimmy Fallon, promoted the app and launched a #TumbleweedChallenge campaign.
In the challenge, people find themselves on the ground to listen to music associated with Western movies.
Since November 2018, when Mr. Fallon mentioned it in The Tonight Show, over nine million videos have been tagged #TumbleweedChallenge on the app.
For TikTok, there does not seem to be a moment of falling in the head, as it crosses more and more countries and attracts new users at every turn.