Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Y Combinator to Congress: TikTok the platform is ready to make a run

And the winners are . . . The Y Combinator company that helped create TikTok, the app that has become synonymous with youth-skewing social media — in the process cementing the app’s meteoric rise — has a plan to break into Congress. And it has made its pitch to its existing investors with a video boasting that it’s about to hit the seven-figure mark. “In just three years, we now have over 90 million users, and at any given time we have over 100 million active users around the world,” a “graphic visualization” of the company’s growth says in the ad. It went up Thursday. “But this isn’t just another social media app. It’s here to stay.”

But yes, that means TikTok is serious about Congress. And that’s no joke.

TikTok, which has 235 million users across the world, and hit 200 million users this summer, describes its business model as being a “filterless version of who you follow.” At the very top of a TikTok page is a box called the “filtering system,” which shows an avatar of its executives explaining how the app works: “The way that our filters work is that we’re looking at who you are now, so, we want to show that — to a person — a political candidate looks different when they are going to a fundraiser than they do when they’re campaigning.” That makes sense — the company says it encourages people who were raised in certain traditions (like Obamas being “hobby politicians” and Hillary being “better dressed for events”) to travel around the country campaigning.

Sen. Cory Booker is a top user, and Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland has recently been a user.

Both Booker and Cummings have been garnering attention for their rallying calls on the national stage and several other powerful lawmakers (and the general public) use the app.

Booker said earlier this year that he used his main TikTok page to share his wish-list for a party with gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy. Booker called Murphy a “stellar candidate,” and mentioned that Murphy would have won the party “except for people who watched this app.”

Cummings said that he used it to express concern about the administration’s policies and the GOP tax bill. “This app also helped me find some people in my area who needed help,” he said.

Frank Gaffney of the Focal Point Foundation, who has served as a personal defender for the notoriously outspoken GOP candidate for Senate, tweeted Thursday night, “I am shocked. I knew that Congress and the federal bureaucracy were corrupt, cronyist and partisan, but I never expected to see this kind of corruption on display in popular applications like Twitter and Instagram. #TrumpNation is there, engaging with these outlets.”

The video ends with Tessa Relf of TikTok saying, “we’re on a mission.”

Read the full story at CNBC.

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