Throughout Melbourne’s first lockdown, Jeanette Nkrumah began spending loads of time on TikTok.
At first the movies she noticed on her “For You” web page – the personalised dwelling display screen that seems every time a consumer opens the app – weren’t notably compelling. However as she began spending extra time there, the suggestions improved.
“The content material simply received actually good. I began texting it to my pals and housemates. Ultimately I began posting it on my Instagram tales for everybody to look at.”
Not like different social media apps, TikTok permits customers to simply save movies on to their telephones, with a watermark. Dr Belinda Barnet, a senior lecturer at Swinburne College of Expertise, says this function helps “result in their content material going viral and bleeding onto different platforms”.
“It’s not only a fundamental function of TikTok,” she says, however relatively a design resolution to make “content material … extra readily shareable”.
When Nkrumah began watching and saving movies, her psychological well being was worse than it had been in a very long time. Her first set of movies posted to Instagram resulted in a flood of constructive messages from pals. Initially, she feared her pals would skip proper previous them, so the reactions felt notably affirming.
Nkrumah saved the uploads going. “A pal messaged me saying I ought to name it High of the Toks, and it’s simply grown from there. Now I put up my curated, themed dumps each Monday night time.”
Nkrumah doesn’t make her personal TikToks. As a substitute, she curates them primarily based on her temper or world occasions. Her Monday night time Instagram uploads aren’t only a ritual for her – her account has change into one of my favourite places on the internet.
Like Nkrumah, I downloaded TikTok after a few yr of watching its movies on different platforms. Not like her, I by no means made it previous the preliminary stage of coaching my algorithm.
I discovered it troublesome to maintain myself on the app. The reward of ultimately getting fed the proper content material, versus the time I used to be spending watching issues that weren’t fascinating, simply didn’t add up. It made extra sense to me to return to the place I’d first began watching TikToks: different folks’s Instagram tales.
I valued the style and sense of humour of folks I already adopted greater than the algorithm’s experiments on me. Plus, once I watched the movies pals posted, I received a deeper perception into who they have been. It made me really feel extra related to them.
Barnet has seen this pattern. She says TikTok movies are “extraordinarily good at capturing a second”, and may compel others to “share that feeling or second on one other platform.”
Content material aggregators on social media are nothing new. New media empires have been constructed on discovering and surfacing viral content material. It could even be a worthwhile endeavour. On YouTube, you’ll discover compilations of Vines, Snapchats and TikToks with tens of millions of views, with cash altering arms with each commercial that performs alongside them.
Sophia Smith Galer, Vice World Information reporter and TikTok content material creator, says whereas content material aggregators needs to be searching for permission from authentic creators to re-share, aggregation isn’t all the time carried out by the books. “When you don’t care about rights or something, you possibly can seize an entire bunch of movies and add them onto a monetisable channel and create adverts.”
YouTube has a takedown process for copyrighted work, and state “brief movies you compiled from different social media web sites” will not be eligible for monetisation. Smith Galer – who has been approached by aggregators searching for to license her content material – says “some folks do obey the legal guidelines of the internet”, however infringements nonetheless occur. “I’ve seen my movies up on different folks’s YouTube channels and I haven’t given them permission to make use of it.”
She says TikTok compilations, specifically, are all over the place at the second as a result of that’s the video platform setting the most developments proper now. It affords “meme tradition carried out in an especially partaking approach”. “[TikTok] has excessive content material density. Each second is full of so many various issues – audio, visuals, captions – which might be attempting to get all these totally different feelings out of you.”
Amber Akilla, a DJ and artistic director who additionally curates Tiktok “dumps” on Instagram, agrees. “The quantity creativity I see on TikTok by no means ceases to amaze me,” she says. On her TikTok web page, she principally posts authentic movies, whereas on Instagram, she principally shares content material from her For You web page. Akilla sees Instagram as geared extra in direction of “aspirational” content material, whereas TikTok is extra “relatable”.
“I didn’t see folks speaking about how we relate to one one other, friendships, relationships – issues that I’ve all the time been inquisitive about – on Instagram, so once I noticed it on TikTok it was actually validating.”
Her personal movies are easy – she holds up her cellphone and talks straight to digicam about her pursuits. However the TikToks she shares to her Instagram viewers are absurd, chaotic, and infrequently – in internet parlance – “cursed”. She posts them not as a result of she agrees with the movies, however to get a response. “I nonetheless suppose Instagram is a greater software for speaking straight with folks,” Akilla says.
Whereas Akilla shares her curations to 1000’s of folks, Nkrumah shares it on a non-public account, that solely her real-life pals observe.
Sharing TikToks that different folks have made, however that nonetheless really feel private to her, has been a secure approach of expressing how she feels. “It’s good to have the ability to share these items in a public house and make others really feel much less alone,” she says.