Since January 2019, TikTok has been ranked the top downloadable app behind WhatsApp and Messenger. The app is believed to be popular among the younger generations who could use it to upload their content using elements such as music and effects.
The app’s technology sheds a light on how the algorithm is designed to bring the content “for you.” Through this method, people get to see what is described as “their niche.”
We had a chat with, Gita Ghaemmaghami, Regonal Communications Director, TikTok MENA, to understand more about their plans of expansion in the Middle East and North Africa region.
What is TikTok’s mission regarding the Middle East?
At TikTok our mission is to provide a pleasant and wholesome online experience and enable our communities to unleash their creativity. In addition, we have a robust localization strategy to encourage users to create content relevant to their local cultures and trends. Our operations teams ensure TikTok provides the best community support for creativity and discovery for our local users. We also strive to draw attention to several social issues to bring about a positive change in our communities – our ongoing #CreateForGood and recently concluded #TikTokCares campaigns are just two examples. In essence, we encourage creativity, but also drive a positive message of inclusivity, tolerance and more.
What is the partnership with Emaar meant to accomplish?
Emaar and TikTok share a common vision for shaping new communities by creating innovative and memorable online and offline experiences. Emaar has redefined the landscape of the UAE and pioneered the development of integrated communities, TikTok, meanwhile, has built a loyal and creative community of content creators passionate about self-expression through technology. The agreement opens up a new spectrum of opportunities to present Emaar’s iconic projects and experiences in the UAE and around the world to a global audience. The partnership represents a major milestone for TikTok in the Middle East and a commitment by both parties to deliver Emaar’s memorable, world-class lifestyle experiences to TikTok’s global community of users.
TikTok has overtaken leading social media sites as the most downloaded app, what have they done differently (compared to other apps) to attain this level of success globally?
TikTok has been recognized as an app that provides a refreshingly positive online experience.
What we do differently is to provide an experience that is genuine, joyful, and positive through bite-sized content. We give our users a platform to unleash and share their creativity. Our mission is to allow everyone to capture and present the world’s creativity, knowledge, and moments that matter in everyday life.
Add to this the “For You” feed, which offers a curation of video recommendations personalized to each user based on their viewing preferences. Instead of serving up videos from only the popular, big-name users on the platform, the individualized feed highlights video content based on the types of video users like, making it easier than ever to amass a large following on their account. Another reason for TikTok’s success is a highly-engaged user base with a community spanning over 150 countries and 75 languages.
It’s this differentiation that made TikTok one of Google Play’s best apps of 2018 in the ‘most entertaining’ category in India and several other countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UK, and US. In the Middle East, TikTok is steadily gaining more and more users.
What is TikTok’s plan with Shoppable Advertisements in the Middle East?
We would not be able to comment on future plans, however the Middle East is an important market for TikTok and we are looking forward to future collaborations in this region.
Can you comment on the ban that was placed upon TikTok in India? Even though it lasted just 3 weeks, how did it affect app downloads across the country?
The interim takedown of TikTok for new downloads on app stores in India was lifted in a short time. We are glad about this decision and we believe it is also greatly welcomed by our thriving community in India, who use TikTok as a platform to showcase their creativity. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue serving our users better. While we are pleased that our efforts to fight against the misuse of the platform have been recognized, the work is never “done” on our end.
We are committed to continuously enhancing our safety features as a testament to our ongoing commitment to our users in India. At TikTok, maintaining a safe and positive in-app environment is our utmost priority. Helping people to stay safe while using TikTok is a responsibility we do not take lightly, as we enable over 200 million Indian users to create and interact on our platform by showcasing their creative expression through their videos.
Many raise concerns about content on TikTok being ‘controversial’, how will you approach this considering the differences in cultures?
At TikTok, we are attuned to the cultural sensitivities of our regional communities. In fact, our offices in the Middle East have teams ensuring our robust localization strategy is executed properly. We encourage users to create content relevant to the region’s local culture and trends which we have done through in-app challenges such as #TikTokTravel and #TikTokCares.
Based out of Dubai, we have a fully dedicated, Arabic-speaking Head of Content and Partnerships responsible for identifying and nurturing local content creators across the GCC and helping them get the very best out of TikTok.
This enables users in the UAE and the Middle East to discover content that is culturally relevant to them, allowing for a more engaging and culturally adequate experience.
Many social media companies are coming down on hate speech and other privacy and safety concerns, have there been any changes in TikTok’s privacy and safety policy?
The privacy and security of our users is a top priority for TikTok, and we abide by local laws and regulations in the markets where we operate. Promoting a safe and positive app environment is absolutely key to us. We deploy a combination of policies, technologies, and moderation strategies to detect and review problematic content, accounts, and implement appropriate penalties.
We have a number of publicly available policies and resources for users, and enforce a set of Community Guidelines and Terms of Service. In addition, we offer users a number of controls, tools and privacy settings. This is a complex, industry-wide challenge and we are constantly evaluating and refining our protective measures in our ongoing commitment to our users. For more information, please visit our Safety Center.
TikTok is the current trend amongst the youth, however trends don’t last too long. Is TikTok planning anything for the future in the situation that the trends change drastically?
We are focused on our product and delivering users with an excellent app experience. We work to continuously provide fresh, novel features on TikTok, and to explore models and opportunities that create value for our partners and the community at large. But more importantly, we connect with our users on a deeper level, and we listen to their feedback and constantly innovate. This is what we believe will keep us relevant for a long time to come.
**This article did not mention the title of the spokesperson when first published.”