Triller: What is the US TikTok rival Donald Trump has just joined?

Triller's popularity has risen as TikTok is set to be banned in the US

Adam Smith
Monday 24 August 2020 11:32 BST
Chinese Foreign Ministry comments on US plans to ban TikTok and WeChat

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President Donald Trump has recently joined the short-form video platform Triller.

Triller is an app similar to TikTok, allowing users to record dances and other content over music.

Triller will then sync the music together using an algorithmically-programmed editor, breaking the songs and videos apart based on their beats before stitching them back together.

In many countries, including the US, the UK, Brazil, Germany, France, and Australia – but not China, where the app does not exist – it has risen in popularity due to TikTok’s imminent ban.

The only way for TikTok to avoid such a ban seems to be if it was purchased by a US company such as Microsoft or Twitter – although TikTok has claimed such a ban is illegal.

What is Triller?

Triller is a social video app where users upload 15-second long clips – the same length as a TikTok video – matched to music.

The music chosen can either be through Triller’s promoted artists, or users can upload their own.

Much like other video apps, users can add filters, text, drawings, emoji, and collaborate with other users to make the video.

Once a “Triller” has been uploaded, other users can share it, comment on it, or use the music from the song in their own video.

Currently the app has been downloaded approximately 130 million times worldwide, and features celebrities such as Mr Trump, Chance the Rapper, Justin Bieber, Rae Sremmurd, Rita Ora, Kevin Hart and more.

Who is Triller owned by?

Triller is owned by Proxima Media, the firm launched by Ryan Kavanaugh following Relativity Media, Kavanaugh’s previous company, filed for bankruptcy in 2015 – the same year Triller was founded.

It was purchased by the giant in September, and merged with another music platform called MashTraxx, for an undisclosed sum.

Proxima Media itself also finances films, including Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Salt, Wanted, Limitless, and The Social Network.

What information does Triller collect?

According to Triller’s privacy policy, the app will collect users’ “name, age, date of birth, gender, address, email address, social media login details, telephone number, photograph, and username/password”.

It will also connect with Facebook and Twitter, allowing them access to information you have shared on those platforms, as well as location information and device data.

How does Triller make money?

Kavanaugh has reportedly said that, because there are no advertisements on the app, Triller’s revenue comes from brand partnerships.

In October 2019, it had renewed licensing agreements with Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group – each of which hold a minority stake in the app.

Kavanaugh said the target audience for Triller is users aged between 17 and 27, claiming that TikTok is aimed at younger users.

“We don’t think we compete with TikTok. We actually look at a world where we coexist,” Kavanaugh has said.

How is Triller different from TikTok?

In an interview with CNBC, Kavanaugh has said that the company sees itself as “the adult version” of TikTok.

“We look at [TikTok] like a stepping stone to Triller,” he said, with content being “a little more risque”.

The company has reportedly made changes in the face of Tiktok’s imminent ban, including adding new features to make it more similar to the app, but that purportedly came at the behest of Tiktok influencers contacting Triller with regards to moving from one app to another.

“We have a big sign on our wall in the office that says, ‘TikTok is for kids,’” says Kavanaugh.

“Our whole thing is like, TikTok trains the audience that we don’t want to have, which is the 8- to 14-year-old audience”

Triller had also moved to integrate itself with other social media apps, such as Snapchat, partnering with the company to add Trillers into the Snap story feed.

What will Triller do now Donald Trump has joined it?

President Trump has a habit of breaking website's terms of service.

The president had been previously, temporarily, suspended from Twitch for posting videos of his rallies, two of which Twitch marked as "hateful conduct".

A broadcast of a 2016 campaign event in which Mr Trump claimed Mexico is responsible for an influx of drugs and crime in the US, and a second where he described a criminal breaking and entering as a “very tough hombre”, both violated Twitch's policies.

Mr Trump's account was reinstated once the offending videos had been deleted.

Similarly, Twitter has had to create exceptions for the president based on the 'newsworthiness' of his tweets, even when Mr Trump tweets content that would result in suspensions for other users.

With regards to hate speech, Triller's policies state: "Any content showcasing speech, gesture, writing or display of attacks on a person or group on the basis of [ethnicity or race, sexual orientation, gender, or religion] will be removed".

"Extreme instances will be escalated to the proper authorities", it continues. It is unclear what authority that would be should the president violate its terms of service.

Triller declined to comment when asked what action it would take if the president broke its policies.

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