In 2011 Twitter played a major role in the Arab Spring. Can TikTok do the same thing for Black Lives Matter? – Liberal Article

Now, In 2011 Twitter played a major role in the Arab Spring. Can TikTok do the same thing for Black Lives Matter? – Liberal Article

Hype House. Renegade. Say So. Charli D’Amelio.

A smile of recognition, or complete bewilderment. I don’t think there is an in-between. If you, like myself, have fallen into the addictive hole of TikTok you will know that all these terms belong to the platform. If you’re unfamiliar with the app that boasts 800 million active users, these will seem like gibberish with absolutely no connection.

TikTok is a viral video sharing platform. Users create videos of up to 60 seconds with numerous editing options and share it with the world. Whilst it has been around for a few years, it really took off when lockdown started. With the majority of its user base between 16-24, it’s a platform where the teens really do rule.

It is an app built on creativity. Viral videos range from dances to voice dubs of your favourite TV shows. The biggest videos now have a life outside the app too. Many of them have made it onto more mainstream forms of media. Chances are if you’re savvy enough to be reading this online article you have seen a TikTok video.

The beginning of this week saw a huge change in the type of content on the platform. Now, the app is filled with all kinds of content inspired by the death of George Floyd the Black Lives Matter movement.

Creators who would normally make skits and dances are now telling followers how to protect themselves from tear gas. Black teenagers are sharing their deeply personal experiences of racial injustice. Others are trying to educate people on the history of racism and oppression. I just watched a video on the history of the clenched fist which is emblematic of BLM movement.

Content created outside of the app and repurposed are not hits. No political parties and very few public figures are making waves on TikTok. It is a space for individuals. That is the beauty of the app, and where its true potential in becoming the sounding board of youth activism lies. Young people are using their voices to share their stories in a way that is authentic for them.

When was the last time you saw a 16-year-old write a politically engaged post on Facebook? I can’t remember the last time I saw a 16-year-old post on Facebook about anything. Quite the contrary is true on TikTok. You could scroll through smart, nuanced and original videos for hours. All created by young people, for young people.

However, TikTok’s rise to activism has not been without controversy. In an age where every action of a company is scrutinised, mistakes cannot be brushed under the carpet.

There have been accusations of TikTok burying black creators videos. Additionally, a bug causing the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag to appear to have zero views. With its young and vigilant user base, the company has had a lot to answer for.

In a blog post, TikTok admitted the mistakes. They also recognised that some people think these mistakes were intentional. Furthermore, they donated $3 million to non-profits supporting the black community, conceding they had a lot to do to ‘regain and repair that trust.’

Despite these controversies, there has been no slowing up of videos sharing scenes at protests, sharing tips and sharing stories. The hashtag, #blacklivesmatter, has had over 6.4 billion views on the app. Young people are finding their political voices and they want them to be heard.

I am not certain what will come of activism on TikTok. However, the youth are engaged and hungry to tell their stories. For the BLM movement, this is bringing a new and diverse wave of activists.

Previously, these young people did not have an outlet that seemed genuine to them. On TikTok, they have found their voice. Perhaps this will be cited as an important gain for the BLM movement in years to come.

Written by Chief Liberal Writer, Olivia Margaroli

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Point of Information

A possible flagship for online activism, but TikTok must recognise its responsibilities to young audience members – a Conservative response

As someone who does not consider themselves a part of the TikTok community, I only rarely see the content which gains massive support and is reposted to other platforms such as Instagram. Miss Margaroli’s article speaks volumes about the opportunity the young, online community has at this time.

Charli D’Amelio boasts a following of more than 61 million people and recently gave her views on the BLM movement. Along with others, she has spread the message that change needs to happen fast and meaningfully and also, that everyone has a story to tell.

I would agree wholeheartedly that preaching online has become the norm and something which is easiest on a platform like TikTok, where voices are heard and tones clear. For that reason, I would only reiterate the message my colleague has spread! Young people are hungry to learn, share their views and enter the political scene now more than ever.

Their involvement should certainly be encouraged. However, like with anything online, I would advise a certain degree of caution. TikTok, along with other social media platforms, has a duty to ensure positive messages are spread, but explicit content is not accessible to those of a young age.

Written by Conservative Writer, Joshua Tyrrell

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Social media is a start, but it takes more than 60 seconds to really show support – a Labour response

The above article is right to recognise the transformative power of social media. Without the incredible immediacy granted by these platforms (of which Tiktok is only the latest and greatest), many of us might never have even heard the name, George Floyd. The Occupy Movement, the Arab Spring, the Climate School Strikes, Black Lives Matter and many more causes have come to our attention this way. Social media has not only revolutionised how we live our lives – it can lead to real revolutions.

This influence is enormous. This is made clear by the numbers of followers. However, our Liberal writer is right also to reconcile with the reality that for every advantage these platforms pose, there is an equal and opposing issue that presents itself. We can no longer support the naive view of social media as an intrinsic force for good.

These issues arise in many ways. They can centre on individuals, who take to the platform to spread harmful ideas. They can form from gangrenous groupings, infecting otherwise acceptable platforms. Lastly, they are often supported by structural factors, seeping from toxic cultures and companies themselves.

More regulation, both internally and through external government organisations, is a necessary next step. It is essential to cut out the cancer of cowardly and cruel behaviour from these sites.

And whilst engagement is often excellent, we must make sure that any cure doesn’t have harmful and hidden side effects. Superficial shows of support can be just as bad. For example, the hashtag #blackouttuesday actually blocked out resources when #blacklivesmatter was used instead. And “showing up” online is not the same as supporting a movement in real life.

TikTok stars put on a performance to get paid. Real protestors do not. When people’s lives are on the line, we would do well not to forget that.

Written by Chief Labour Writer, Evan Saunders

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Olivia Margaroli
Chief Liberal political writer at | Website

I am second year student reading Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Exeter. Next year I hope to study abroad in Washington DC, a dream for any political student.

Joshua Tyrrell
Co-head social media marketing at | Website

‘Hold a flexible mindset’ was a piece of advice I once heard and I find it appropriate to mention when introduction myself as a member of the POI team.

Evan Saunders
Chief Labour Writer at | Website

I’m a third year University of Manchester student, currently studying in Lyon on my Erasmus year (by sheer coincidence I’m writing this hours after parliament has voted to end British involvement in the 30 year programme, so just to be on the safe side I promise not to use the NHS/European Declaration of Human Rights/anything at all anytime soon).

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