Culture / Film

A documentary about Tik Tok is in the works, and it’s looking at democratic youth culture and authoritarian data surveillance

Tik Tok Documentary

Because, of course the TikTok phenomenon is getting its own documentary!

The popular social media app will be the focus of a new feature documentary, directed by Shalini Kantayya. With production helmed by Campfire, Forbes Entertainment and Olive Hill Media, the documentary will be based on Forbes’ reporting with a the aim to examine how the “nascent social media app, best known for viral dances, has served as the catalyst for heated controversy and endless conspiracy theorising involving the U.S., China and a new tech-rooted Cold War that will shape the future of a global shared internet.”

As one of the fastest-growing social media companies in the world, the app has been downloaded over 2.6 billion times. With controversy surrounding the app since its inception, the documentary has promised to talk to tech gurus, entrepreneurs and politicians, alongside some of TikTok's biggest stars and creators in attempt to explain the popularity surrounding it  and the political backlash it has been the result of.

One of the platforms most interesting components, is its “shapeshifting, immediate gratification-based algorithm,” as well as the controversy surrounding TikTok owner ByteDance’s direct ties to the Chinese Communist Party, an issue that fuelled former president Trump to attempt a ban on the app during his term, and one that president Biden is concerned about, too.

“TikTok’s story is about the future of social media itself, and the increasing tension between democratic youth culture and authoritarian data surveillance,” says Kantayya in a statement. “I’m thrilled to helm such a timely film.”

“There’s never been a social media app that’s become so popular and so controversial, so fast,” Dinerstein told Variety in an exclusive interview. “Googling ‘TikTok’ brings up stories on everything from threats from the White House to class-action lawsuits, viral trends and social movements started on the app. For better or worse, TikTok’s at the epicenter of American culture, and we’re ecstatic to be reuniting with our partners at Forbes and Olive Hill to shed light on this wild, sensational story.”

“In two years, TikTok has dominated the social landscape, minting millionaires, creating pop stars, empowering the poor and more,” said Travis Collins, executive director of Forbes Entertainment. “But this is more than just a social story, this is a compelling business story. With Forbes’ insight and access, we’re able to add crucial context to one of the greatest and most controversial growth stories of all time, in a way that only Forbes can.”

There is no release date for the documentary so far, but we'll stay across any updates that come.

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