What Would Happen If TikTok Was Banned?

By WIRED Staff

And I'm just wondering, is that actually going to happen? Are these creators who also have a presence on YouTube, have they set up a presence on YouTube? Or is it the other way around? These are YouTubers who are using TikTok because it's the hotter platform?

LM: I think it's the former. So I think it's that they are proactively trying to make sure that some of their audience has another way of reaching them. But I think it's like for a lot of these creators that TikTok is the main outlet that they have. But if you're a super fan, you'll also follow them on Instagram. Or if you've liked the two-minute vlog they put on TikTok, you can go watch the monetized 10-minute video on YouTube. But those I think are for super fans.

A lot of times when I click on a TikTok creator's Instagram profile, it will say, "Hey, I have 500,000 followers on TikTok." Or, "Hey, if you found me from TikTok, follow me here." So I definitely think it's not really that they grew their platform elsewhere. A lot of them are too young, and I think that people forget that Instagram is really driven by your existing social network.

YouTube, the videos are the wrong way. It's very desktop driven. So if you were used to making stuff on your phone, it doesn't really make sense. It's not super obvious how to translate that to other platforms necessarily. Of course, plenty of them do, but I think that TikTok is something different. No one wants to watch a 10-second dancing video on YouTube really.

LG: One of the things that seems unique about TikTok too, is just the way people are actually encouraged to copy each other. I don't know if copying is the right word exactly, but they're encouraged to-

LM: Participate in the challenges it's kind of like.

LG: Yeah, take a meme or a challenge and do some version of it or interpretation of it. So now, I've watched like a dozen videos of people holding up their cat to their ears and going, "Hello, governor, the queen is coming. You're not going to experience it the same way without seeing the TikTok, but people do really creative, different interpretations. And that's one of the things that I really like. Whereas I think if you see 12 of the same videos on YouTube, you're like, "OK, who is stealing whose idea here?"

LM: I think that what people forget is early on, people would describe TikTok this way, but everyone forgot it, is that it's like YouTube, but with Spotify in it. So they were really smart to have these relationships with the record labels. There's also been some problems with pirated content, but they made these relationships with musical artists and with record labels so that you can have those sound clips. That was a huge part of it that you don't have on YouTube.

YouTube will just silence your video if you're trying to take some music. It's a very different environment where that's not really part of it. Yeah, the sound clips are huge. I don't know about you, but I definitely have brain worms from them. They're in my head and it's horrible.

LG: So, speaking of other platforms, if TikTok is banned, does this end up meaning more power for Facebook via Instagram, considering how much Facebook already rules our social existences?

LM: Well, they're also going to release this new app that's a TikTok knockoff called Reels, so we will see if that has any traction. I think that it's more likely to have traction if TikTok is banned. And there was also some activity from the founders of Vine that they got a boost in new users recently because people came to their new app, Byte, because they thought that TikTok was going to be banned. So people are getting a little bit more into Byte.