With 800 million monthly active users, TikTok already surpassed LinkedIn, Reddit, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest. At an estimated $78 billion, TikTok owner Bytedance is the world’s most valuable startup and almost half of all users are between 18 and 24 years old — that is voting age in the US.
Some have suggested that this is a “shakedown”, but the Trump administration has not been particularly hostile to foreign investment — it has continued to tick upward since his election, according to Bloomberg. A quick look at the TikTok demographic rather suggests that users on the platform will not be voting for a white Republican candidate.
Generation Z’ers in the US are mainly part of the new TikTok subculture, one of the fastest growing social-media platforms in the world promoting an alternative version of online sharing. It allows users to create short videos with music, filters, and some other features and is available in more than 150 countries. According to Sensor Tower, TikTok was the top non-game app downloaded in the US in February 2019. The reported growth in the US was 375 percent year-on-year, according to mobile data and analytics company AppAnnie. TikTok thus tops the download charts for 2020.
Non-white Americans were by far the youngest racial or ethnic group in the US Census Bureau data, with a most common age of just 3 years old. Therefore, non-white Americans were the youngest racial or ethnic group in the Census Bureau data as measured by median age (21 in 2018) – and this also happens to be the TikTok demographic.
For white Americans, the most common age was 58, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. By comparison, nearly six-in-ten minority Americans were Millennials or Generation Z and younger (Generation Z begins with those born in 1997 with no official endpoint yet).
Racial and ethnic minorities already made up 40 percent of the US population in 2019, an estimated increase of about 1 271 000 people from 2017. The minority population’s growth stands in contrast to the non-Hispanic white population, which declined by about 257 000 between 2017 and 2018.
In the wake of the radical Black Lives Matter movement, it could be that the Trump administration perceives TikTok to be not a Chinese threat, but an internal American one in that the platform could be used to radicalise young people of colour even more, causing more riots and violence in an election year. Its current Chinese owners, coming from a largely homogeneous, authoritarian society, might not appreciate just how fragile multicultural, multiethnic America really is.