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Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

TikTok is so big now, some days there are a flurry of stories from this single company alone.

Today, for example, and while most of them aren’t directly music-related, they do offer a useful view of how the app and its culture is evolving. Not to mention its efforts to deal with regulation and safety challenges.

We’ll start with the TikTok Creative Challenge, a new initiative that aims to connect TikTokers with brands. The latter set challenges as briefs, which can be browsed in-app and responded to by submitting “high-quality, well-edited, original content” which – if accepted – will then be run as ads within TikTok’s ‘For You’ feed.

The creators of those ads will be rewarded based on “many factors, including qualified video views, clicks and conversions”, although for now the initiative is restricted to US-based TikTokers who are older than 18, and have at least 50,000 followers.

Moving on to challenges, children’s safety and privacy has been a recurring headache for TikTok – most recently when it was fined £12.7m by the UK’s privacy watchdog for misusing children’s data. Yesterday TikTok announced its latest safety changes with younger users in mind.

It’s adding a content filtering tool to its ‘Family Pairing’ feature, enabling parents to set keywords to “help reduce the likelihood of their teen viewing content they may uniquely find jarring”. TikTok also announced plans for a ‘Youth Council’ to get more feedback from teenagers on how it could and should improve its app more generally.

Another challenge: fending off angry politicians and potential bans in the US. In May, the governor of the state of Montana signed a bill that would ban TikTok there from January 2024. At the time, TikTok announced plans to challenge the legislation, shortly after a group of TikTok creators sued the state in an effort to overturn the ban.

Now it has emerged (in a New York Times report) that TikTok is funding the creators’ lawsuit, as well as its own challenge. “We support our creators in fighting for their constitutional rights,” said its spokesperson, although it is financing the legal action rather than paying the creators directly. The report noted that TikTok used a similar strategy in 2020 when it was fighting a potential ban by the Trump administration.

Two more pieces of TikTok news. The app is hopping off the BeReal bandwagon just nine months after clambering aboard. TikTok launched a ‘TikTok Now’ feature cloning the buzzy ‘one photo a day at the same time’ social app last September, but the feature is now being discontinued according to The Verge, which pointed to the wider slowdown of interest in BeReal itself. “The viral spotlight has moved on…”

Finally, a direct music story! The organisers of the UK’s MOBO Awards have announced the 10 finalists in their annual MOBO UnSung contest, including three – Gabriel Sanches, Melica and Shack Santima – who applied via TikTok as part of its ‘TikTok Wildcard’ partnership with MOBO. All 10 finalists will also be offered support from TikTok’s SoundOn distribution arm over the next year.

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