Green Left is now on TikTok. The social media video sharing app has exploded in popularity over the past few years, reaching more than 1 billion active users earlier this year. It is now the most downloaded app in Australia.
TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, was originally launched in China as Douyin in 2016. It started to see mainstream popularity outside of China when it merged with Musical.ly, another video sharing app, in 2018.
Like many social media sites, TikTok encourages users not just to watch content but also to create their own. There is a huge catalogue of songs, video effects and filters available to use.
The most popular videos become memes, with thousands of people creating their own takes or interpretations of the original “template”.
If an artist's song is used in one of these popular trends, it can quickly go viral, with many songs appearing on music charts after becoming popular on TikTok. Musicians have started to take note of this, with many releasing 30 second snippets of their music on TikTok before full release.
However, there is a dark side to the app, with a 2021 report finding that far-right videos and accounts are being pushed by algorithms. Most recently, misogynist guru Andrew Tate gained notoriety through TikTok, manipulating mostly young men with reactionary anti-feminist ideology.
Tate has since been banned from the app, as well as from Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, although there are others perpetuating the same hateful ideas with varying degrees of popularity.
There are also concerns that TikTok is harvesting users’ data and giving it to the Chinese government. United States-based social media sites such as Facebook have also been found to harvest users' data, on-selling it to marketing companies and others.
Despite these problems, TikTok is also a space for activists to share ideas in new and creative ways. There are a variety of accounts dedicated to explaining socialist theory, highlighting protests and other actions, analysing media and countering far-right voices.
Green Left hopes to use this powerful tool to continue to build progressive movements and spread ecosocialist ideas.
[Follow Green Left on TikTok by searching @greenleftonline.]