In the wake of a clash between "Mamun Bhai'' and "Opu Bhai", I have just discovered that there is an app named Likee (a copied version of TikTok), in which a Bangladeshi guy name Prince Mamun has over 10 million followers! No other influencer of Bangladesh has that many followers in all of their social media combined let alone in just one platform. To have some more sense in this regard, I did some research.
As of July 26, 2020, in the list of 'Top Free App' in Bangladesh, Likee ranked in number one, followed by IMO, Facebook lite, Bkash, and numerous apps, even the app it copied the idea from, the notorious 'Tiktok'. India banned TikTok last month, along with 58 other Chinese-owned apps, in a move that was widely seen as retaliation for China's incursions into its territory.
Surprisingly, Pakistan, a close ally of China, gave TikTok the last warning over vulgar contents. TikTok came under fire from other countries over security concerns. Bangladesh also banned TikTok last year as part of a clampdown on internet pornography. But unbanned it after some months. This temporary ban of Tiktok fueled the growth of Likee in Bangladesh.
As everyone knows by now, TikTok is a controversial but wildly popular app that allows users to upload and share short 15 second clips from their phones and claims to have 500 million users worldwide. Tiktok said that more than 120 million of their users are from India. Though it is banned in India, Indian social media platforms like Chingari, Trell, Roposo, and Mitron are seeing lower user engagement compared to TikTok, says a report by KalaGato. Indian social media platforms are using competitions and in-app features to drive user engagement, for example, Instagram launched a new video feature in India 'Reels', which is designed specifically for short-form, creative content.
Likee is also short video creation and sharing platform whose interface and the main theme is unapologetically copied (No, it's not even inspired per se!) from TikTok. It is owned by Singapore-based BIGO Technology, whose parent company is JOYY, a Chinese company. It is also on the list of banned apps in India.
Though both apps contain a huge chunk of 'cringe' contents, it has many creative and big celebrities creating content over there. In Bangladesh, celebrities like Mehazabien Chowdhury, Salha Khanam Nadia, Porshi, Tanjin Tisha, Imran, Safa Kabir, and numerous others are creating content on a regular basis. There are also many people who rose to fame from these apps and even started to get casted in TVCs. So, not everything in these apps is cringey but cringey contents really get highlighted in these apps. Let me explain why.
The rise of apps like TikTok and Likee are related to our decreasing attention span. Watching videos is one of the oldest forms of getting entertained. People watch movies, TV serials which took at least one hour (People are still watching those), but then YouTube came. You can watch a video which is just 5 to 10 minutes and get entertained. To read a Facebook or Instagram post, it takes 1 or 2 minutes. But these apps took it to an extreme level, the duration of a video is just 15 seconds! The video is over before you decide to watch it or not. This is also the reason why the app is so addictive because you have to do nothing but scroll, your decisions are passive and everything is ready-made.
The reason behind the youth flocking in TikTok is its low entry barrier. To get fame on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube is very hard compared to TikTok. You have to make efforts in scripting, editing, and promoting on those websites. But in TikTok, you just need a phone and a little knowledge of different filters. You don't have a script, don't worry, just lip-sync to an audio clip. You don't have editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro, Sony Vega; don't worry, just use those inbuilt features and you will be good to go.
Some areas in Dhaka like Agargaon, Fuller Road, Uttara DiaBari are becoming a hub for these rising TikTok celebrities. They are flocking together in those areas and making 10-12 videos and hoping that the minimum one will go viral. I even saw some videos of just walking passionately in slow motion getting hundreds of reactions and comments on those apps. Good luck, getting those views on platforms like YouTube and Facebook by just walking passionately! Many Facebook pages are created just to mock these cringey TikTok videos, moreover roasting those 'innocent' tiktokers is a common scenario among big YouTubers. People love those roasting and mocking because they think "Hey! I am not like those idiots in multicoloured hair and cringey behaviours, I must be superior". But you are not superior to them, Kashem! By watching their videos, you are also contributing to their growth.
So in this era of short attention span, you can mock them, hate them, and avoid them but you cannot deny their existence in the social media culture. You can use these apps to kill your leisure time in the quarantine time, but not be addicted to it. And also there are some allegations against these apps in regard to stealing personal data of users. So, be cautious before installing it on your devices.