Thailand turns to Tiktok in times of plague

As the coronavirus pandemic and restrictive measures continue to keep us safe, boredom has inevitably set in.

Just two months ago, Thais were still out and about and experiencing all that life had to offer. But sunny days and outdoor walks seem a lifetime away as the crisis continues unabated.

With nowhere else to channel all the pent-up energy, anxiety, and confusion, the people of Thailand have turned to Tiktok.

Tik Tok is a Chinese-owned social video sharing app and platform where users can film, edit, and share 15-60 second videos. Tiktokers can create and upload videos incorporating music and animation to their heart’s content.

Tiktok users, mostly a younger demographic, can follow, like, comment, share and spend hours browsing through millions of user-generated short videos.

@jaja_hanoy

##มีมไทย

♬ เสียงต้นฉบับ – JajaHanoy

Launched outside of China in 2017, Tiktok instantly became a hit and had one billion downloads worldwide. It became the most downloaded app on the Apple store in 2019 and currently has over 800 million active users worldwide

In 2020, Tiktok’s rapid and rising popularity drew in older audiences, influencers, and celebrities in Thailand, such as the likes of Vatanika and Ticha The Face Thailand.

@therealvatanika

##jlosuperbowlchallenge ##stayhome ##alonebutneverlonely

♬ original sound – therealvatanika
@tichatiktok

Finally! ได้เต้นสักที ##jlosuperbowlchallenge ##jlotiktokchallenge ##challenge ##fyp ##dance

♬ original sound – besperon

And now, with a pandemic and quarantine set in place, tech and social media savvy Thais are flocking onto Tik Tok to find connection and community.

@zommarie1992

ทำงี้ทุกวัน รับรองผอม! 🤣 @isbanky ##igoge ##fyp

♬ original sound – zommarie 🍊

Yes, boredom indeed breeds creativity.

Understanding Tik Tok

Tik Tok have been aggressive in pursuing their younger clientele.

According to the company, Tik Tok aims to “capture and present the world’s creativity, knowledge, and precious life moments, directly from the mobile phone.”

It has successfully tapped into the modern era’s lack of attention span and need for instant gratification. Every video does not exceed one minute, and most users will automatically choose to create 15-second videos. Tiktok users will never feel overwhelmed or like they are consuming a lot of content when scrolling through the app because each video is short-lived and doesn’t require a lot of effort and energy from its users to engage in.

Not just an entertainment and social platform

As the coronavirus isolation becomes the norm, more people are turning to Tiktok to document their experiences and share tips and stories to one another through the video platform. In particular, Tiktok has reportedly become one of the most popular platforms young people are using to ease their coronavirus fears.

@bietheska

##เมื่อ ##อยู่บ้านเบื่อๆทำอะไรดี

♬ BORED IN THE HOUSE – Curtis Roach
@mikiraiofficial

Facts about ##coronavirus

♬ original sound – tylan.berryman

Doctors and professional healthcare workers have also used the app to inform the public and share coronavirus news.

@drleslie

BUSTING MYTHS ABOUT THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS AKA COVID19. ##myth ##myths ##facts ##truth ##real ##stayhome

♬ original sound – ripdiknherspleen

Tiktok, in fact, has come up with ways to engage the public in humanitarian and coronavirus relief efforts by suggesting accounts like the World Health Organization and The Red Cross for users to follow. Now trending hashtags, like the #SafeHands challenge (partnered with the WHO) and #ส่งใจให้ทีมแพทย์ (#SendingWellWishestoHealthcareWorkers), are encouraging and teaching users how to wash their hands the right way and think about others.

@ryotamoisture

ทุกคนสู้ๆ!!🕺🏻##ซู่ซ่า##เมษาathome ##อยู่บ้าน ##stayhome##โควิด19 ##covid19 ##ส่งใจให้ทีมแพทย์

♬ オリジナル楽曲 – เรียวตะryotamoisture
@golfandmom

เราขอเป็น 1 กำลังใจ ❤ ##ลูกกอล์ฟ ##แม่แป๋ว ##golfandmom ##foryou ##foryoupage ##เมื่อ ##มีมไทย ##คนไทยเป็นคนตลก ##เมษาathome ##ส่งใจให้ทีมแพทย์

♬ เสียงต้นฉบับ – ลูกกอล์ฟ & คุณแม่ 💕

Controversy

Tik Tok has not been without its critics. Most notably, the Chinese application has been accused of being spyware by tech experts in the United States and the European Union. According to National Public Radio in the United States, the application was used by the Saudi Government to monitor dissidents and arrest them.

According to Popular Mechanics, “TikTok utilizes an algorithm that can be tuned to distribute news or content that sways public opinion—a form of information control that has proven societal impact. And China’s 2017 national intelligence law contains language that requires companies to comply with intelligence-gathering operations if asked.”

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said that the application was “fundamentally parasitic” and said could contain spyware installed by the Chinese Government.

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