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TikTok takes on a political dimension for young Americans

videos are visible on TikTok are usually a potpourri of leisure time: dance routines, cooking recipes, jokes or sporting achievements, served by an algorithm based on the habits of the user. But for several days, while the United States are experiencing significant demonstrations against police violence following the death of George Floyd, a black man during his arrest by white police officers, contents activists are flourishing on the application.

Under the hashtag #blacklivesmatter, more than four billion videos have already been posted on the application, property of chinese group ByteDance, which has 800 million users in the world. A growing number of them denounces the racism of the forces of order and objected to the situation of minorities in the United States and offer tips on how to organize the protest.

Hyram has 2.3 million subscribers on TikTok. He published tutorials to skin care, and testing of beauty products. But his last two videos are in contrast with the previous ones: he explains how to protect against tear gas, which is widely used by us police to disperse the protesters.

"Put on glasses but do not wear make-up, it contains substances that aggravate the effects of the gas", recommends Hyram in the first of them, which has been viewed 8.7 million times, more than most of his previous videos. "If you receive, do not rub the face, but the spritz you milk and take a long cold shower." "Share this video to help the protesters and hang in there. The lives of black count," he concludes.

It is still too early to know if TikTok will have a role equivalent to the one that was able to have Twitter in the arab Spring. The social network, Jack Dorsey became a tool of organisation essential for the protesters. But we can already observe an effervescence similar, who sees a platform whose culture was mostly related to the entertainment to take a political dimension. With one difference however: where Twitter has always posed as the defender of freedom of expression and guarantor of the public debate, TikTok is far from having the same story.

A platform for controversial

The emergence of a discourse committed on TikTok is thus all the more surprising as this platform grows historically a spirit of "fun" and "creative". The references to what it considers "controversial topics, such as the exaggeration of the conflict between black people and white", have been prohibited for a time, him drawing allegations of censorship imposed by Beijing.

renewed charges this week, while the app was not displaying any search result for the hashtags #blacklivesmatter and #georgefloyd.

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