Tick-Tock, TikTok.

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TikTok, there goes your time.

I have been a social media user for quite some time now. Back in about fifth grade I downloaded Snapchat and have been using it ever since. It is a great way to communicate with friends in an unformal way and a good place to “socialize” electronically. For those who use Snapchat, it can be used a couple time a day to check up on friends and to send funny pictures of yourself and to let friends know, indeed, you are still “alive” in this media-controlled world.

Another social media app that I frequent, along with millions of other teenagers, is Instagram. Instagram is much more of a time eater than Snapchat. On Instagram, the common user will post on a special occasion, sharing with followers what significant event caused them to post. But, with this app enters the ability to become insanely popular, possibly worldwide, over just your phone. There is the ability to post for the whole world to see and content gets better and better as the years roll on. Since there is more content, there is much more opportunity to sit and stay scrolling. So, consequently, Instagram tends to eat up more time than most social media platforms.

But, nothing even comes to close to the new social media craze that has swept the entire population of teenagers and that is TikTok. It’s humble beginnings were people dancing to cheesy radio songs and only those who had excess time, it seemed, would use it. But it has transcended into a time eating monster.

TikTok mastered the formula to keep you on the screen. Snapchat was only you and close friends. Instagram was only people you chose to follow. TikTok is everything, everywhere. There are multiple aspects of the app that make it so irresistibly time consuming.

First, you know what to expect. All TikToks are videos with audio in the back ground but have evolved into lip-syncing to memes to skits and most of all, relatable situations. TikTok is a place for people to share how they feel about every situation possible, especially in teenage life. All of the videos seen are so relatable that you feel the video must have been made for me, so you keep scrolling.

The Great Hack is a documentary about how a digital profile is made of you and sold.

Next, as mentioned above, the scroll feature is like the bars to the jail cell. Unlike Snapchat or Instagram, TikTok seamlessly has each video follow the next with no breaks available except the power button on the phone itself. Video after video of satisfying, comedic and eye pleasing images are sent into the users’ brain, giving such a constant flow of dopamine, to hop off is like trying not to buy a pack of cigarettes for a smoker.

Unlike Snapchat and Instagram, TikTok has the chance to get smart. Since the app itself feeds you your content instead of the user picking content, it uses artificial intelligence to see what kind of videos you watch in their entirety, what videos you like, what videos you swipe through fast, and what peaks your attention within seconds. With a killer algorithm, it predicts exactly what will get you hooked right when you open the app. If the night before you thought videos of angry moms was funny, it will give videos of angry moms that same time, but in two days so you don’t feel drowned by those videos. Or, if you stay on the screens of a certain account’s videos, they will show you more of them.

If Facebook can predict who you vote for, TikTok will predict the color bristles on your toothbrush.

The most dangerous part of all is the X factor. Since it does such a perfect job of predicting what you like to see, you stay longer. And since you stay longer, it has more time and data points to gather from you, literally perfecting its own algorithm the more you use it and the more the world uses it. It is like iron sharpening iron. If Facebook can gather a ridiculous amount of information on you, I am so frightened how accurate this can be. This app easily can collect millions more data points than Facebook within a couple days of use.

Is that bad? That is an ethical question we need to start asking right now, right this second, because as you read this, TikTok just predicted and collected the moves of every single teenager who opened the app.