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TikTok Users Respond to Potential Ban


Since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Monday that the United States was considering banning TikTok over national security concerns, a sentiment echoed by President Donald Trump in an interview on Tuesday, TikTok users have been scrambling.

Some have engaged in open revolt, retaliating by posting negative reviews of President Trump’s 2020 campaign app. The app received more than 700 negative reviews on Wednesday and only 26 positive ones, according to data from the analytics firm Sensor Tower. It currently has a one-star rating.

“For Gen Z and millennials, TikTok is our clubhouse, and Trump threatened it,” Yori Blacc, a 19-year-old TikTok user in California, told Time in an interview about the app ratings. “If you’re going to mess with us, we will mess with you.”

“TikTok has been such a big part of everyone’s quarantine and helping everyone get through this pandemic,” he said.

Influencers who watched the fall of Vine, another popular short-form video app, in 2016 learned the importance of diversifying one’s audience across platforms. But even for TikTok’s biggest stars, moving an audience from one platform to another is a huge undertaking.

“I have 7 million followers on TikTok, but it doesn’t translate to every platform,” said Nick Austin, 20. “I only have 3 million on Instagram and 500,000 on YouTube. No matter what it’s going to be hard to transfer all the people I have on TikTok.”

Some of TikTok’s biggest stars have already successfully migrated to YouTube. Members of the Sway House, like Bryce Hall, have quickly become stars there. Other TikTok influencers, such as Charli D’Amelio and Josh Richards are also already in the millions.

“When Vine ended, all the Viners took over YouTube,” Mr. Hurley said. “If TikTok gets banned, TikTokers are taking over YouTube. TikTokers are the ones in the headlines right now. TikTokers are the talk right now. If TikTok gets taken away, these people aren’t just going to disappear.”

Ellie Zeiler, 16, said that a glitch on Thursday afternoon where TikTok temporarily showed zero views on videos across the app led some users to believe that the ban could be imminent. She said she saw hundreds of users going live, saying goodbye to their followers and urging people to follow them elsewhere. “I was like no, this can’t be it,” she said.

Dubsmash, an app that functions very similarly to TikTok, has also seen a large influx of users. Barrie Segal, the head of content at Dubsmash, has been working overtime to make the new users feel welcome without alienating its current stars.

“We have tons of new users coming into the app right now, and that’s why we’re making sure that no one feels like it’s a takeover. That’s the key thing,” she said.

Ms. Segal has appointed 40 popular Dubsmashers to act as “ambassadors” to new users with big followings. “It was a bit of a culture clash in the last couple days, but now everyone is understanding each other more,” she said.

Max Levine, the C.O.O. of Amp Studios, an incubator for social media talent, said that the 10 TikTok creators who work with his company are all investing heavily in Snapchat. The platform recently verified them, and they have found success with the app’s Discover page.

Still, many people say TikTok is irreplaceable for them.

“I’ve heard of Dubsmash. I’ve heard of Byte, but it’s just not TikTok,” said Q Shamar Stenline, 21, who has 4.4 million followers on TikTok. He’s not immediately looking to jump to another short-form video app. He’d rather focus his time on YouTube, which he sees as more stable. “YouTube will be around,” he said. “These other apps come and go.”


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