KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • As the fifth most popular social media app in the world, TikTok boasts 1.1 billion active users across 160 countries.
  • TikTok’s opportunity for interactive trends like dance challenges have enhanced socialization for Gen Z, creating an outlet for self-expression and a virtual personality for them.
  • As of April 2024, a law called the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act was signed by the U.S. President Joe Biden. As a result, TikTok would need to be banned or sold by January 19th, 2025. In reaction to this, a lawsuit was filed against the Justice Department by TikTok and ByteDance, the parent company. Now, oral arguments about this law have been set for September 2024 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Why is TikTok Considered Controversial?


Since its inception, TikTok hasn’t gone without controversy or criticism. In several countries, the popular social media has already seen bans for periods of time, with its main criticism being the concerns surrounding how it handles user data and its interactions with politics on a global scale.

TikTok has also been criticized for the type and style of content put out there to influence young and impressionable audiences. In addition, the speed at which information is spread is a concern as misinformation can quickly reach large audiences.

Why are U.S. Politicians Trying to Ban TikTok?

The United States’ proposal to ban the app answers concerns regarding data privacy and national security. TikTok has faced major scrutiny over its supposed connection to the Chinese government. This issue has raised concerns within political circles, urging policymakers to address these concerns and determine the most effective course of action.

If TikTok successfully gets banned in the U.S., a major shift in digital strategy for political campaigns will have to take place, as the absence of the app could create a void in reaching younger voters and lead campaign strategists to find a new way to fill that void. 

TikTok Bill

The goal of the TikTok bill is to address the concerns over the perceived vulnerabilities associated with the app itself. The provisions outlined in the bill touch upon the critical areas of concern, including legal recourse for users, data handling practices, and oversight mechanisms. The bill aims to enhance safeguarding measures, accountability, and transparency within the app and its operations to better protect users. The issues covered in the bill include:

  • Data Privacy and Security Measures
    The TikTok bill aims to strengthen data privacy and security. The bill outlines stricter requirements for encryption, data storage, and access control to answer concerns regarding user data treatment. These provisions impose greater transparency obligations on the app to hopefully decrease risks linked to unauthorized data access.
  • National Security Considerations
    The continued popularity of TikTok has increased concerns over national security and political tensions, and the bill aims to safeguard sensitive information from external threats. The safety measures outlined in the bill are mandatory disclosures of ownership structures, heightened oversight, and enhanced examination of foreign investments. The strengthening of regulatory frameworks aims to lower potential risks to national security raised by foreign-owned digital platforms.
  • Content Moderation and Accountability
    The use of TikTok has raised many concerns about harmful or misleading content being shared across the platform at an alarming rate. The bill aims to strengthen content moderation and accountability standards. The goal here is to slow the spread of misinformation, hate speech, and other content that may be deemed objectionable. Policymakers aspire to create a safer, more responsible digital environment. In addition, seeks to give users a greater ability to report violations and give them a place for their grievances to be heard.
  • Assessing the Implications and Challenges
    Implementation of the bill will resolve many concerns, but it also poses several challenges and implications. The leading one is the need to balance regulatory oversight and innovation. The policymakers behind the bill must ensure regulatory interventions do not hinder technological advancements or the free flow of information.The global nature of the digital world requires cooperation and coordination between international stakeholders. The efforts to regulate digital platforms like TikTok must be accompanied by the awareness of cross-border consequences and an adherence to international law and its established principles. Ignoring these implications creates the risk of fracturing the fragile digital landscape and impedes on the efforts made to create a harmonized regulatory framework.

Understanding the Phenomenon That is TikTok


What is TikTok and Why is it So Popular?

TikTok is a highly popular video-sharing app, which allows users to view and create their own content using music, filters, and sound effects. Launched in 2016, TikTok has cemented itself as one of the most influential platforms in the world. 

Why is TikTok So Popular with Younger Generations?

With its 1.1 billion users, TikTok is quickly catching up to Instagram as one of the leading social media apps. Even at the year of its launch, it became the most downloaded photo and video app. So, what’s TikTok’s secret to success? Let’s take a deeper dive into how and why TikTok has become so popular. 

  • Celebrity endorsements
  • Viral trends and challenges
  • Easy content creation, sharing, and viewing

Celebrity Endorsements

TikTok is widely used by celebrities, like Jimmy Fallon, who initially helped push the app’s popularity. The platform has several paid partnerships with celebrities all over who work to promote the app to their local audiences. 

In November 2018, Jimmy Fallon introduced the “challenges” portion of his show, which used TikTok as the platform for his challenges. He took to the app to urge viewers to take on the #TumbleweedChallenge and post TikToks of themselves rolling like a tumbleweed. Fallon took it upon himself to jumpstart the trend with a video of himself. This challenge went viral, gathering millions in engagement with a total of 39.2 million views in total. 

Viral Trends and Challenges

TikTok has become a hub for viral challenges and trends, including songs, dances, and other trends quickly becoming viral. These trends are often kickstarted by an influencer or celebrity, easily catching on with the masses and spreading to other platforms. Dance challenges are also another particularly popular form of viral content on the platform. In 2023 the most viewed videos included:

  • #1 Zach King’s Harry Potter illusion – 2.3 billion views
  • #2 James Charles’ Christmas wonderland transition – 1.7 billion views
  • #3 Zach King’s hide and seek illusion – 1.1 billion views
  • #4 Zach King’s cake glass illusion – 966.9 million views
  • #5 Bella Poarch’s ‘M To The B’ video – 794.5 million views

Easy Content Creation, Sharing, and Viewing

TikTok simplified the art of content creation and sharing, making it easy for users to jump on trends and create their own. Creating is easy – all users have to do is record and upload it instantly. Plus, other videos begin playing as soon as you open the app, so there’s little to no navigating the app to consume content.

Top 10 Richest TikTokers (as of 2023)

#1 Khaby Lame is the Richest TikToker

  • Est. Net Worth: $15-$20 Million
  • Followers: Over 160 million
  • Content: Reaction videos, funny skits
  • Age: 23
  • Born: March 9, 2000 (Dakar, Senegal)
  • Citizenship: Senegal (West Africa)

Who is Khabane “Khaby” Lame?

Khabane “Khaby” Lame is a Senegalese-born Italian influencer. As of 2023, Khabane is the richest TikToker and is known for his videos silently mocking over complicated “life hack” videos. Khabane was named in Fortune’s 40 Under 40 and Forbes’ 30 Under 30 lists. He currently earns up to $750,000 per TikTok post. 

#2 Charli D’Amelio is the 2nd Richest TikToker

  • Est. Net Worth: $17.5 Million
  • Followers: Over 152 million
  • Content: Dance videos, lip-syncing, lifestyle content
  • Age: 19
  • Born: May 1, 2004 (Norwalk, Connecticut)
  • Citizenship: United States

Who is Charli D’Amelio?

Charli D’Amelio was the highest-earning TikToker in 2021 at only 18 years old, bringing in $17.5 million that year for her clothing brand Social Tourist, a Hulu show, and brand deals. Now, while D’Amelio still posts dance videos, most of her time is devoted to creating content to promote her own brands and partnerships. A huge part of her promotions involves D’Amelio Brands, her family’s consumer product company. 

#3 Dixie D’Amelio is the 3rd Richest TikToker

  • Est. Net Worth: $10 Million
  • Followers: Over 56 million
  • Content: Dance videos, lifestyle content, music
  • Age: 22
  • Born: August 12, 2001 (Norwalk, Connecticut)
  • Citizenship: United States

Who is Dixie D’Amelio?

Dixie D’Amelio, older sister of Charli, was initially embarrassed by her sister’s dance videos. Since joining the party, she’s accumulated 57 million followers, earning $10 million in 2021. Dixie has then used her platform to launch her pop music career. She is also involved in their family consumer products company, D’Amelio Brands, and with her family, they plan to create footwear and beauty lines to sell to their combined 200 million TikTok fans.

#4 Addison Rae is the 4th Richest TikToker

  • Est. Net Worth: $8.5 Million
  • Followers: Over 88 million
  • Content: Dance videos, lifestyle content, collaborations
  • Age: 23
  • Born: October 6, 2000 (Lafayette, Louisiana)
  • Citizenship: United States

Who is Addison Rae?

Addison Rae Easterling grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana, and never expected to amass 88 million TikTok followers and make over $27 million dollars. Her competitive dance training gave her the ability to bring songs to life and entertain viewers around the world. Addison Rae has secured numerous brand partnerships, including Pandora, Vital Proteins, American Eagle, and even a multi-million-dollar Netflix deal. Since joining TikTok, she has founded her own cosmetics line, Item Beauty.

#5 Bella Poarch is the 5th Richest TikToker

  • Est. Net Worth: Over $5 Million
  • Followers: Over 93 million
  • Content: Lip-syncing, dance videos, gaming content
  • Age: 29
  • Born: February 8, 1997 (Pangasinan, Philippines)
  • Citizenship: United States

Who is Bella Poarch?

Bella Poarch, a former Navy helicopter mechanic, has attracted more than 90 million TikTok followers with her lip-syncing videos. Poarch has been using her platform to launch her music career, with her single  “Build a B*tch” reaching number 58 on Billboard’s pop chart in May 2021. She’s also done partnerships with luxury fashion house Moncler and the Call of Duty video game. Poarch is one of the most-followed TikTok stars and has incredible engagement, but isn’t earning as much as other TikTokers, like Addison Rae or the D’Amelio sisters.

#6 Josh Richards is the 5th Richest TikToker

  • Est. Net Worth: Over $5 Million
  • Followers: Over 26 million
  • Content: Lip-syncing, comedy skits, dance videos
  • Age: 22 
  • Born: January 31, 2002 (Toronto, Ontario)
  • Citizenship: Canada

Who is Josh Richards?

As a popular TikTok teen, Josh Richards attracted millions of followers with his good looks and dance skills. Since he joined the platform, he’s turned his status into a content empire. He now co-hosts the Barstool podcast BFFs and is the co-founder of the production company CrossCheck Studios, the energy drink Ani, and the VC firm Animal Capital. In addition, he’s a brand ambassador, producer, and creator for Amazon. 

#7 Kris Collins is the 6th Richest TikToker

  • Est. Net Worth: Over $4 Million
  • Followers: Over 42 million
  • Content: Comedy skits
  • Age: 27
  • Born: July 1, 1996 (Abbotsford, British Columbia)
  • Citizenship: Canada

Who is TikToker Kris Collins? 

Prior to 2020, Kris Collins was a hair stylist in Vancouver. When the pandemic made seeing clients impossible for a period of time, Collins downloaded TikTok. With her brother’s encouragement, she began creating a comedy sketch show starring herself as a number of different characters. Collins has since accumulated 41 million TikTok followers, as well as 4.5 million on her YouTube channel. Collins delivers family-friendly humor, which has attracted brands such as Hershey, Pantene, and Lionsgate as sponsors.

#8 Avani Gregg is the 6th Richest TikToker

  • Est. Net Worth: Over $4 Million
  • Followers: Over 39 million
  • Content: Makeup tutorials
  • Age: 21
  • Born: November 23, 2002 (Brownsburg, Indiana)
  • Citizenship: United States

Who is TikToker Avani Gregg? 

Avani Gregg rose to fame in 2019 by being known as the “clown girl” for her Harley Quinn-inspired makeup tutorials. She’s since earned herself a top spot on TikTok, making Forbes’ list of highest-paid TikTokers in 2021 with $5 million in earnings from the app. Gregg has recently written an autobiography with Simon & Schuster, gained her own Facebook Watch show, and got a role in the web series Chicken Girl.

Top 10 Most Viewed TikTok Videos (as of 2023)

#1: 2.3 billion views – Zach King – Harry Potter Magic Illusion

#2: 1.7 billion views – James Charles – Welcome to Sisters Christmas Party!

#3: 1.1 billion views – Zach King –  “Hide and Seek Illusion” 

#4: 966.9 million views – Zach King – “Do You See the Glass As Half Full or Half Empty” 

#5: 794.5 million views – Bella Poarch – “M To The B”

FAQs


Who is the biggest celebrity on TikTok?

As of 2023, Will Smith, the world-famous actor and rapper, is the most followed celebrity on TikTok with over 72 million followers. Smith’s successful career in the spotlight prior to joining TikTok has helped him amass a large social media following. His profile consists of moving motivational speeches, behind the scenes looks into his Hollywood life, and collaborations with other fellow celebs and influencers.

Who has the top 10 most followers on TikTok?

As January 2024, the TikTokers with the most followers are:

  • #1 Khabane Lame (161.6 million followers)
  • #2 Charli D’Amelio (151.7 million)
  • #3 Bella Poarch (93.9 million followers)
  • #4 MrBeast (92.6 million followers)
  • #5 Addison Rae (88.7 million followers)
  • #6 Kimberly Loaiza (72.2 million followers)
  • #7 Zach King (80.6 million)
  • #8 TikTok. (77.9 million followers)
  • #9 Burak Özdemi (74.6 million followers) 
  • #10 Will Smith (74.2 million followers)

Who is the TikTok guy that doesn’t talk?

Khaby Lame gained popularity on TikTok for his videos where he doesn’t speak, only mocks other videos. This all began in 2021 when he started making fun of outrageous life-hack videos that were storming social media at the time and reacting to them with a look of exasperation or shrug. He now boasts 160 million followers and counting.

Who is the youngest TikTok star?

Currently, the youngest TikTok star is Riyaz Aly at only 19 years old. Riyaz is based in India and has become a sensation thanks to his Bollywood-inspired lip sync and dance videos. Riyaz has more than 45 million followers.

Who is the oldest TikTok star?

Amy Winifred Hawkins went viral celebrating her 110th birthday on January 24th, 2021, with her video performing a rendition of the 1912 Jack Judge song, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” while holding a cup of tea. The video was posted by her great grandson and gained more than 150,000 views and 35,000 likes.

Who is the most popular TikTok girl?

With more than 125 million TikTok followers, Charli D’Amelio remains on the top of the list of the most popular TikTokers and the most followed TikTok girls.

Who is the most popular TikTok guy?

Khaby Lame is the most popular TikTok guy, who is known for his videos where he doesn’t talk as he mocks other videos.

Does TikTok pay money?

Some of the top creators have revealed TikTok pays between $0.02 and $0.04 per 1,000 views through the Creator Fund program. That equates to approximately $20 to $40 for a million views.

How many followers do you need on TikTok to get paid?

As a TikTok creator, you must have at least 10,000 followers and get at least 100,000 views over 30 consecutive days to gain the potential to earn money through your content through the Creator Fund.

How many users are on TikTok?

TikTok currently has 1.1 billion active users throughout 160 countries, making it the fifth most popular social media app in the world.

Is TikTok owned by China?

TikTok Ltd was incorporated in the Cayman Islands and is based in both Singapore and Los Angeles. The app’s parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance, is owned by founders and 20% owned by Chinese investors, 60% owned by other global investors, and employees own the other 20%.

Is TikTok banned in China?

Despite being developed using Chinese technology, the app is not accessible in China. The version of TikTok we know and love never existed in China, as they had their own version of TikTok. 

Is TikTok getting banned in the US?

As of April 2024, U.S. President Joe Biden signed a law called the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act. This law would require TikTok to be banned or sold by its parent company, ByteDance by January 19th, 2025.

With that being said, a lawsuit was filed against the Justice Department by TikTok and ByteDance. For now, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has an oral argument about this law that has been set for September 2024.

Why are people worried about TikTok?

The concerns over TikTok involve the argument of the app’s excessive data collection and national security. While varying opinions are out there, some argue TikTok poses the same risk as other social media, like Facebook and X. 

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a popular social media platform designed for creating, sharing, and viewing short videos. The app gives users a creative outlet to express themselves through dancing, singing, comedy, lip-syncing, and more by creating videos and sharing them across their online community. Currently, TikTok has 1.1 billion active users across 160 countries. 

Sources: Forbes, PopBuzz, and CNN.

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