Ryan Beard was sitting in front of his keyboard, taking song requests on a live stream on the last Friday of July, when he saw a message from a viewer pop up in the chat: “tik tok is officially getting banned
Beard, 22, has more than 1.8 million followers on TikTok. He spent a year growing that following, throwing everything he had into a career as an online creator with the app as his anchor. The Twitch thing was new, his audience there much smaller. Now—while dozens of people looked on—he was trying to process the possibility that he could lose it all.
“Is it really?” he said, continuing to stream from his family home in Kansas City, Kansas. “No. Please tell me it’s not true.” He turned to his computer and searched for news coverage, finding a headline: “’Trump says he will ban TikTok from the US.’ Great. GREAT.” He leaned back in his chair and put his head in his hands. “Fuck Donald Trump. Oh my God.”
President Trump’s proclamation that he was about to ban TikTok turned out to not be quite true. But the company’s future in the US is still uncertain: last week Trump issued executive orders setting a 45-day deadline, after which he said the US government would ban transactions with two Chinese companies unless their US operations were sold: TikTok parent company ByteDance and Tencent, the parent company of WeChat. It created turmoil and set a timer on TikTok’s ongoing efforts to find a buyer for its American operations.
That timer is also running for creators like Beard, whose fame is mainly limited to TikTok. Whether the app goes or stays, this moment is forcing creators like him toward a realization that making, or even consuming, things on the internet means depending on platforms that could change drastically in an instant.
Beard might not have expected it, but it’s not necessarily a new lesson. Every generation of online creators has been through some version of this crisis, with corporate decisions destroying their livelihoods or fracturing their communities.
“The thing that I’m always saying to creators is that you have to find ways to matter to your audience, and you have to find ways to connect with them, ideally, that aren’t controlled by these intermediaries,” says Hank Green, one of the earliest and best-known YouTube creators. His science and education YouTube channels boast many millions of subscribers, and he has started businesses and written books on the back of that success. But recently he’s become a regular presence on TikTok too. None of the big platforms should be fully trusted to host the ties between creators and the communities that form around them online, he says: “At any point, any one of them can pull the plug.”
The TikTok situation is just the 2020 version of that lesson:
By: Abby Ohlheiser
Title: TikTok made him famous. Now he’s imagining a world without it
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2020/08/14/1006875/tiktok-ban-influencers-ryan-beard-hank-green/
Published Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2020 15:50:51 +0000
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