If you’ve been following the ongoing story of Tik Tok and their attempted sale to an American buyer, you probably have as many questions as I do because something just doesn’t seem to make sense.
From the start, the origins and rise of Tik Tok have been somewhat mysterious. The app, mostly popular with young teens exploded on the scene within the last two years. It was heavily promoted by some of the largest influencers on social media, including PewDiePie of YouTube. It’s not clear if he was paid or in any way compensated, but during Tik Tok’s huge growth phase, he would make almost daily videos that were nothing but promoting Tik Tok user generated content.
To quickly explain without going too deep into what users do on Tik Tok, it basically promotes viral “meme” challenges. Users see other people completing the skits, dances, or performances then make their own or make their own variations on it, which keeps the challenge going and growing.
With this being said, it should become obvious to more skeptical readers how such a platform could be used to promote many different forms of behavior, all hidden behind the notion of it just being a fun “challenge” or meme.
It’s this sort of control that Tik Tok and its parent company ByteDance have over their users that is starting to make me wonder why American companies with almost no interest in social media are in a bidding war to be partners with Tik Tok.
Oracle appears to have won the bidding war to be Tik Tok’s “technology partner” here in America. Along with Wal-Mart, which seems a little baffling as Wal Mart is a grocery retail chain, so it seems strange they would be in the market for a pre-teen social media app. Wal Mart has never bid or showed interest in any other social media platform in the past.
What makes the story even more strange is that now reports are coming out that both Oracle and Wal Mart will not even take an ownership stake in Tik Tok after paying billions of dollars to be their official American”technology partner”.
Microsoft was an early bidder, but apparently Oracle and Wal Mart offered more.
So why would huge companies such as Oracle and Wal Mart pay billions to partner with Tik Tok, and not even stand to have an ownership stake in the product?
There must be something other than money and I’m starting to believe that what they really want is the algorithmic formula that Tik Tok has figured out to make almost any activity or behavior they want go viral.
We all know social media companies are constantly trying to develop algorithms to increase user engagement and time spent on the platform. Essentially they try make their platforms more addictive. But Tik Tok is a whole new animal. Instead of just trying to trick users into using the platform more with little rewards or curated content, they have instead found a way to get their users to act out in very specific ways. In other words, Tik Tok is one of the first social media platforms that is designed to directly illicit a specific action from its user, not just get the user to stay on the platform.
It is this sort of game changing paradigm shift that has the likes of Oracle and other giant corporations fighting to just get their foot in the door, even at the cost of giving up any ownership in return for their billions of dollars invested.
For now, it’s impossible to know the real reason that Tik Tok has become so coveted by virtually every company. The same way had no idea what kind of strange behavioral manipulations and experiments Facebook was up to until whistlblowers came forward and exposed how most of the company’s energy is spent on manipulating users, not actually running a social media platform that helps “connect” people, as they claim.
It also appears that the current deal to make Oracle and Wal Mart Tik Tok’s partner may not go through as the Chinese government has recently stated that there is no plan to honor the deal at this point. Tik Tok’s parent company ByteDance is under the control of the Chinese government, so they can block any transfer sale if they choose.
So for now the strange fight over Tik Tok continues, a fight that just may be for the newest algorithm to more easily control the masses.
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