TikTok is the latest social media craze taking over Gen Z, with over 500 million active users worldwide and over 1.5 billion downloads - but the platform’s latest move has users concerned.
The most followed TikTok user is 17-year-old Loren Gray, with 38 million followers, followed closely by 19-year-old Baby Ariel at 30.2 million followers, and 15-year-old Charli D’Amelio close behind at 28.4 million followers.
The teenagers have earned their followers through posting original 30-second dances on the app that go viral - and now, the girls, along with other famous TikTokers, live in a house in LA called ‘The Hype House’ and collaborate on dances for their huge following.
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What’s the Hype House?
The Hype House is where a group of 19 teen TikTok mega-stars live, and is “designed for productivity”, creator Thomas Petrou told the NY Times.
"If you want to party, there’s hundreds of houses that throw parties in L.A. every weekend. We don’t want to be that."
But there are house rules: make three TikTok videos per day.
Of the 19 members, only three are over 18 and therefore live there full-time.
Both D’Amelio and her sister Dixie (18, and also a famous TikTok star) live with their parents in Connecticut most of the time, but come to LA to produce at the Hype House when their parents are allowed.
How much money do TikTok stars make?
Similar to Instagram and YouTube, TikTok stars can pull in big money for posting videos.
According to Influencer Marketing Hub, popular TikTokers like D’Amelio and Gray could pull in anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 from brand partnerships.
D’Amelio has reportedly raked in US$1 million from her YouTube, TikTok and Instagram partnerships. She also earns money from the videos uploaded by the Hype House.
But users dub the situation ‘very concerning’
While some social media users believe “creative collaboration”, that is, using a shared space to produce content, is a good system for artists, in the context of the Hype House where older boys are living with underage girls, it’s concerning.
“Charli is FIFTEEN. There is zero reason a bunch of guys in their 20s should be friends with a girl who is in the 9th grade,” one Reddit user said.
Is TikTok content too sexual?
Mother and journalist Anastasia Basil downloaded the app when her 10-year-old daughter asked for it, and found the experience “disturbing”, she wrote in a blog post for Medium.
“The kids who get it right - the tweeny Kardashians - gain followers,” she said. And, those who aren’t “sexy” enough, often get bullied in the comments section, or find their videos part of “cringe” compilation videos.
“Some kids hashtag their videos with words like thot, which stands for That Ho Over There, or fgirl, hottie, sxy, whooty or sin,” she explains. “But good luck keeping up, the code changes week-to-week.”
Some Reddit users believed the NY Times article on the Hype House failed to address the sexual nature of the app.
“The article fails to address the rampant sexualization of teenage girls (and boys) and how that’s being used to market the app and make it more addictive,” they stated.
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