Against that uncertainty, TikTok creators — many of whom spent years building up a fan base and career on the platform — have started to weigh what comes next.
“Right now, everyone is transferring over from TikTok to Triller,” Mitch said, adding that the app has been glitchy as a result and she’s unsure of how often she’ll use it.
But the upheaval in the TikTok community also serves as a potentially painful reminder of the risks social media stars, young and old, face in building and maintaining a livelihood that depends largely on one platform.
“There’s now going to be a fire under my butt to work so much harder in creating YouTube videos,” Lagana said. “There’s a difference in having a presence on TikTok compared to having a presence on YouTube. … All these YouTubers they’re actually real-life celebrities. On TikTok, it’s kind of like you’re a TikTok celebrity.”
TikTok has 100 million US users, while YouTube has over 2 billion users globally.
Even before the latest flurry of news about a possible TikTok ban, there had been some defections from the platform as the short-form video app came under renewed scrutiny for its ties to China through its parent company, ByteDance, which is based in the country.
Last week, several major TikTok stars, including Josh Richards, Griffin Johnson and Noah Beck, preemptively jumped to Triller, a similar app that launched in 2015, over privacy and security concerns.
“When we saw all this information come out in the media, we decided to start looking into what would be a safe platform for other creators, ourselves and our supporters,” Richards said. “We started on TikTok with absolutely nothing when we began, and we were able to build that up. … Now we’re ready to do it with Triller.”
Triller’s user downloads skyrocketed more than twenty-fold in the last week compared to the same period one year prior, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower.
Clash quietly launched its app last week with the intention of getting in front of more creators and making its real public debut in the early fall. But, with all of the news surrounding TikTok, creators quickly started posting about Clash as they tried to find ways to fill a potential TikTok void. From Friday to Saturday, the app saw 100,000 new downloads.
“As somebody who lived through the Vine apocalypse, I saw the panic,” said McNerney, who had nearly 700,000 followers on Vine before the app was shut down. “People having to say ‘The thing I make a living off of, that I love, is going away.'”