PETALING JAYA: Step aside Facebook and Instagram. TikTok, the new kid on the block, is fast gaining users and followers among Malaysians.
From home-makers to professionals, everyone is diving into the new social media and video-sharing platform to get information or share experiences.
Communications expert Adlene Aris attributes this to the appealing features that TikTok offers.
Its short-video format that enables users to create interesting content with music, exciting sounds and visual effects is a boon, especially for the younger generation, particularly Gen Z.
Aris, a lecturer at the Faculty of Applied Communication at Multimedia University in Cyberjaya, said Facebook is now perceived as a platform for the older generation.
TikTok was launched as Douyin by China tech company ByteDance in 2016, and made available to the rest of the world after it merged with another China social media service, Musical.ly, two years later.
As of July, the service already has 700 million users worldwide and counts more than two billion downloads to date, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower.
The video-sharing platform has recently become a dominant issue in the US-China trade war as it threatens to replace Facebook, Instgram and Twitter, much like the way these three services pulled the rug from under MySpace and Friendster years ago.
In a bid to ban TikTok, US President Donald Trump has accused China of using the video-sharing platform to collecting data for Beijing. TikTok won a temporary reprieve last Sunday.
Aris noted that the interface and functions of TikTok are user friendly.
“In fact, most viral videos we now see on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram originate from TikTok,” she said.
Working mother-of-two Aisha Rafiqa Mohd Ridzuan, 30, said she used to see TikTok users as attention seekers until she started using it.
“Now, I understand that it’s not just about dancing. We can get a lot of information from it too,” she said.
Another avid user is dentist Dr Sylvia Lim, who is from Johor. She uses TikTok to share educational content on dental health in an “entertaining way”.
“I’ve already gained half a million followers in a short span of six months.”
But Lim also debunked the perception that TikTok was mostly for the young.
“My mother loves TikTok. You can get hooked on it, given its capability to offer content that you enjoy,” she said.
Student Syahmi Shuhaidi, 21, spends about two hours a day on the popular app. “It has had a huge influence on my generation. With it, we can start new trends and even turn a song or personality into a viral sensation,” he said.
Despite TikTok’s quick rise, many feel that it is not time yet to bury older platforms such as Facebook.
Aris believes Facebook and Instagram will try to stay relevant by upgrading old features and introducing new ones.
“They have played a big part in the global community. For instance, Facebook has been ahead in providing updates on the war against Covid-19, and Instagram is big on suicide prevention,” she pointed out.
Lim said she now uses Facebook only to check for important messages from her family.
She believes TikTok will dominate the social media scene in the future.
Aisha, on the other hand, believes that TikTok will lead in the content media platform.