TikTok, known in China as Douyin
Object date May 2017
Place of Origin China
Designer Yiming Zhang, ByteDance Founder and CEO, Board Chairman
Manufacturer ByteDance Ltd.
Materials Short-form mobile video app/mobile networking service

by student Isa Hummelin

“One man’s imagined community (Anderson, 1983) is another man’s political prison.” (Anderson, 1983, as cited in Appadurai, 1990:295)

Use of the Chinese social media app, TikTok, has soared as people have found themselves stuck at home during the pandemic. The platform has played a role in current events from Black Lives Matter to US Presidential Elections and even Johnny Depp’s legal battle against the Sun. At the ‘centre’ of our world, our phones, the app provides constantly changing content created by users and thus it stays relevant. Due to its addictive nature and ability to “Capitalis[e] on the boredom, creativity and savviness…” (Reed, 2020) TikTok disseminates knowledge and contributes to global flows of politics, activism, ideas and culture. It’s able to keep us connected to ourselves and others.

Appadurai, A. (1990). Disjuncture and difference in the global cultural economy. Theory, Culture & Society, 7(2-3), 295

Reed, Harriet. (2020). Pandemic Objects: TikTok. V&A Blog, 7 July 2020, https://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/projects/pandemic-objects-tiktok. Accessed 8 December 2020.

Tiktok.com. 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.tiktok.com/transparency?lang=en [Accessed 9 December 2020].


Image taken by the student, including screenshot from phone and mouse icon from Instagram.

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