A group of top-class TikTok content creators announced today that they are detaching from the platform and switching to a competing short-form video app. But it's not just about posting in another app. The four TikTok stars – Josh Richards, Griffin Johnson, Noah Beck and Anthony Reeves – were hired as investors, advisors and executives at Triller, a LA-based competitor to TikTok.
Together, the four developers have an audience of almost 47 million users, reports the Los Angeles Times, which makes their departure from the platform significant – especially if they can take a significant number of these fans with them to their new project.
Triller was launched in 2015 – two years before TikTok and three years before the merger with Musical.ly, which catalyzed the launch of TikTok in the U.S. – and is historically related to the music industry, Young Thug and Kendrick Lamar. The service was developed in part to provide streaming fees and royalties to artists and rights holders of music used in fan videos.
Triller compensates Richards, Johnson, Beck and Reeves, although the details of the deals are unknown. Still, the developers say they leave TikTok because they are aware of the Chinese company's security practices.
"After seeing US and other governments' concerns about TikTok and taking responsibility for protecting and guiding my followers and other influencers, I followed my instincts as an entrepreneur and made it my business to find a solution." Richard said Mal. The 18-year-old will take on the role of Chief Strategy Officer at Triller.
TikTok has long been accused of questionable practices, but criticism has increased dramatically in recent months. Wells Fargo and both the DNC and the RNC have adopted rules that prohibit employees from installing the app on corporate phones. Amazon reportedly made a similar recommendation to employees, but the company quickly revoked it.
Mike Pompeo interviewed Fox News in early July, claiming that the app "put the user's private information in the hands of the Chinese Community Party." The platform even found its way into Donald Trump's view. The president's re-election campaign, in which ads appear on Facebook, encourages support to sign a petition calling for the app to be banned.
Despite the alarms, some experts are skeptical that TikTok is significantly worse than other social media companies when it comes to privacy issues.
"It is unclear how much effort the administration will spend to actually investigate the severity of specific security concerns with the app. Versions that use it as a threat to broader geopolitical leverage," said Betsy Cooper, director of the Aspen technology policy incubator at the Silicon Valley Policy Hub, CNET said.
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