While there’s not much to do in the outside world at the moment (because pandemic), there’s plenty happening on our screens over the weekend: the social media platforms are battling – against each other, and also the President of the United States.
On Friday (July 31), while speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Trump threatened a “severance” from TikTok as soon as this weekend (today, actually), declaring that he will be “banning them from the United States.”
The China-owned social media app has already been on the U.S. hit list for a while: back in December, the Defense Information Systems Agency advised all Department of Defense personnel not to use TikTok, citing “potential risk.” And in July, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the country was looking into banning TikTok due to “national security concerns,” and that it was being evaluated similarly to Chinese state-backed tech companies Huawei and ZTE, previously described as “Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence.”
TikTok hit back with a statement, citing its nearly 1,000 new U.S. employees onboarded this year alone, claiming that U.S. user data “is stored in the U.S., with strict controls on employee access…TikTok’s biggest investors come from the U.S. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.”
And while Trump was busy threatening the ban, Microsoft was reportedly having talks to buy out TikTok’s U.S. operations.
The move to ban TikTok by the President suggests ulterior motives, given that there are plenty of U.S. apps still in operation stealing our personal information as well, and happens to come at a time of rising anti-Chinese sentiment, aided by a racist in office mouthing off about the “China Virus.”
All that being said, nothing’s actually happened yet: TikTok’s still up and running. Gen Z is still lip-syncing and dancing to Megan Thee Stallion‘s “Savage.” WitchTok stays divining. The conspiracy theorists stay theorizing. The Hype House remains hyping. (Shudder.)
In terms of the music industry, the sudden demise of TikTok would radically affect how charts and streams look: the Hot 100 has been almost solely dictated by the songs that have most gone viral as the soundtrack of hundreds of thousands of videos on the social media platform for months now. Just look at how thirstily Jason Derulo hopped onto a viral beat with his track, “Savage Love” – it’s a primary promo strategy for many popular artists at this point.
All eyes are now on you for your next move, Charli D’Amelio and Loren Gray…and that over-communicative gay couple that refuses to expunge themselves from my FYP.
THANK YOU SOOO MUCH FOR 75 MILLION I LOVE YOU ALLL!!! 💕💕 dc @noahbeck @trvpandre @yodamnmomma
♬ Tap In x Rags2Riches x Wet – carneyval
While TikTok’s future hangs in the balance, Facebook is officially coming for YouTube.
The former meeting place for high school students going off to college-turned-misinformation meme machine for our media illiterate family members announced that they’ll be uploading “hundreds of thousands of music videos” in the U.S. beginning this weekend (today, actually) in order to challenge YouTube’s stronghold on the music video experience.
The plan, which has apparently been in development since Fall of 2019, also includes updates to Artist pages, including a new section to browse official videos, and the opportunity for users to click through from a music video to get more info about the artist. The company also plans to create a new section in the Watch section that will organize videos by genre, artist and mood, including playlists for new and popular releases. They’ve already done the required deals with the three majors – Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group – plus a bunch of smaller labels.
They’ve also locked in exclusive music video premieres to come, including music videos from the Colores Colombian king J Balvin and the “Tusa” titan Karol G, as well as an exclusive video from former Vine “comedian”-turned-artist Lele Pons – which just feels like a threat, and a surefire way to keep people all the more skeptical of jumping ship from YouTube.
One of the biggest factors that wasn’t addressed, at least in their official announcement or in conversation with Variety, is whether Facebook Music Videos will count towards chart tracking, and if so…how.
This is, after all, the same company that famously overstated their video view counts just a few years ago, which led to the failed “pivot to video” movement in Internet journalism, and cost hundreds of jobs.
Unless there’s more of an incentive, exclusiveness or superior experience offered by Facebook, it feels unlikely that anyone will bother prioritizing the already much-abandoned platform. It does seem, however, more likely than ever that your great aunt might accidentally stumble across a new Charli XCX music video.
We shall soon see how this plays out. And if you’re gone by Monday: thank you for the memories, TikTok. You’ve contributed so much to the culture.