Is TikTok Safe for Kids, and is it the Next Big Thing for Cannabis Content?
The wildly popular video-sharing app is concerning parents while drawing attention from marketers. Will TikTok continue to be the next big thing, or will it go the way of Google+? And is Tik Tok safe for kids?
What is TikTok? This is a phrase that has been Googled by many a boomer over the course of the last year or so, and frankly, anyone who is of legal drinking age might not fully understand it either. This is because teens and young people are the main users of TikTok right now, but that could change quickly – as is often the case with what’s popular digital media. Of course, TikTok is highly popular with people under 24, but the platform is also getting a lot of attention from digital marketers who work in the cannabis sector.
Okay, So What is TikTok?
TikTok is a social media platform that is based around sharing short videos of under 15 seconds. The app allows users to add things like special effects, music, animation, and of course filters to their videos. Just like Facebook and Instagram, users like and comment on posts, as well as follow pages.
In 2014, Chinese entrepreneurs launched Musical.ly, and quickly became popular and built a large user base. The media and tech company ByteDance acquired Musical.ly in 2017 for a reported $1 billion, according to CNN. ByteDance then rebranded Musical.ly as TikTok, with Musical.ly being popular in the Western world and TikTok already having 500 million Asian users.
According to market research, TikTok was one of the most downloaded iOS apps in 2018. It surpassed youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram in monthly installs as of October 2019. Even articles that discussed rumors of TikTok shutting down got the attention of thousands of eyeballs, based solely on the app’s popularity.
These hundreds of millions of active monthly users shoot videos to act out memes, do goofy dance moves, and try to be funny like the Vines of old. And of course, many of these videos are reproduced and regurgitated. Despite this redundancy, there is something unique to the platform that intrigues techies and digital marketers alike – its use of AI.
According to ByteDance’s website, it’s “one of the first companies to launch mobile-first products powered by machine learning technology.” ByteDance claims that TikTok “combines the power of artificial intelligence with the growth of mobile internet to revolutionize the way people consume and receive information.”
Basically, TikTok uses AI such as facial recognition filters and algorithms based on previous likes and engagements to fill the feeds of users with recommendations. TikTok also compiles click-based data like location, network info, user behavior, and even private messages.
Is TikTok Safe For Kids?
Many parents are uncomfortable with TikTok, and we can’t say we blame them for being concerned. Kids as young as 13 are making up the large percentage of the app, with many others fibbing about their age to gain access and download the app. There don’t seem to be too many restrictions at this point – with users posting nudity, mild fantasy violence, and yes – cannabis consumption. Additionally, all new TikTok accounts default to public, and users must adjust their settings so that only friends can see their videos. Adjusting these settings isn’t something your typical tween will be keen on doing, which is an added concern for parents.
Parents might be justifiably uncomfortable with their kids using TikTok unsupervised, but the reality is that you can access just about anything on the internet if you know where to look. This has been true since the dot-com boom of the 1990s when we had to use dial-up modems and wait 10 minutes for a single page to load. If parents are concerned, communication and being open with their kids is paramount. Having challenging conversations about drugs in general, not just cannabis – is a much better route than censorship, outrage, and prohibition. If 83 years of cannabis prohibition has taught us anything, banning things won’t prevent people from using them – in fact, it might even encourage it in some cases; only open, honest discussion will.
Buyer Beware: Tik Tok Owns Your Content
If the video-sharing platform sounds like a good time to you, and you’re ready to post a video to TikTok, be sure to take a good look at the terms of service on their website. Read the TOS very, very carefully – because they may surprise you. As it stands right now, all user content that is uploaded to TikTok is owned by TikTok. That’s right, the intellectual property rights of all content on TikTok owned by the app, and the TOS clearly states that they might profit off of all content that is uploaded. Any content you upload to TikTok could be used for revenue-generating purposes like promos, ads, sponsorships, and so on.
By agreeing to Tik Tok’s TOS, you give them a license to use your username and any content royalty-free. In fact, there have been a lot of TikTok users surprised that their videos appeared in marketing ads. These users don’t receive credit or compensation when TikTok uses their videos. Many of them claimed they ‘never gave the app permission’, but they, in fact, did just that by accepting the TOS and using the app. The lesson here? Read your terms of service! Clearly, these TikTok users have never seen the episode of South Park called ‘HUMANCENTiPad’.
Content is King – Free the Weed
Digital marketers know – content is king, and in today’s fast-paced, screen-centric world with customers that are always plugged in, video content is the King of Kings. This is the reason why YouTube was at the top of the mountain over 10 years ago, and why Google acquired the video platform. Videos that users find interesting are the driving force behind the staggering popularity of TikTok.
The digital marketing budgets of many cannabis companies here in 2020 will no doubt include resources devoted to TikTok. That is, of course, until and unless the terms of service are changed to ban cannabis content. Right now, hashtags like #stoner, #420, and #weedchallenge all have over 20+ million views.
Cannabis companies are taking notice, and are figuring out creative ways to use TikTok to market their brands. This might mean that Tik Tok isn’t perfectly safe for you KPop kids. This is even more important to cannabis brands because such ads have been banned from advertising on Facebook (ah, hem) and Instagram, with their brand accounts deleted – often losing millions of followers in the process. Until TikTok decides to ban cannabis-related content, it appears that it’s here to stay. Only time will tell if TikTok will go the way of buried social network platforms like MySpace, Vine, and Google+.