President Trump has joined video-sharing app Triller, seemingly to try to make the US-based app more popular than controversial rival TikTok.
Triller has been around for a while — in fact, the US app actually pre-dates TikTok by about a year. However, despite the president's best efforts, TikTok is significantly more popular.
How does Triller work, and how is it different from TikTok? And, will Trump's presence actually help or hinder the app?
What is Triller?
Triller is, in essence, an app for people to share videos with other people — just like TikTok. You can create 15-second videos, which can then be edited in-app with music, effects, filters, drawings, and more.
So far, so familiar. However, in practice, TikTok and Triller feel quite different.
While TikTok has its stars — Addison Rea or Charli D'Amelio, for example — the app retains a distinctly DIY, grassroots feel. Triller, meanwhile, seems obsessed with supplying users with content from the biggest stars on the platform — perhaps because it partners with celebrities and social media stars, supplying them with Triller-branded merch and, presumably, money.
A quick glance at the two apps' websites gives a great insight into how they think differently about what is, ostensibly, the same thing.
TikTok's assertion that it features “Real people” and “Real videos” stands in stark contrast to Triller's homepage. The American app's website features Chance the Rapper and Lea Elui, an official ambassador for the app with more than 800,000 followers, dancing front-and-center.
Will Trump's Presence Help or Hinder Triller?
Having an endorsement from, supposedly, the most powerful person in the world is unlikely to make an app less popular.
However, one wonders whether having the president with the lowest average approval rating – just 40% according to Gallup – compared to all previous Presidents would be the sort of endorsement any app would covet.
One also wonders whether Trump's main voter base would be attractive to an app typically marketed at tweens, teens, and even pre-teens. According to the Pew Research Center, just 28% of voters aged 18-29 opted for Trump while 58% voted for Hillary Clinton.
That's not to say the older generations are going to be bad for a social media company's bottom line — just look at Facebook. But, an app filled with Trump acolytes producing content like this is unlikely to appeal to millennials and gen z voters. It's also worth noting that Triller has already verified Trump's account and hasn't yet provided any context for any of his posts.
Why Has Trump Joined Triller?
There's been no official statement on why Trump has joined Triller. However, given current events, it's fairly easy to surmise why he has.
As soon as Trump proposed banning TikTok, US tech companies including Microsoft and Oracle have been falling over themselves to woo ByteDance, the app's Chinese parent company.
In Trump's zero-sum worldview, any money going to China is money that is coming out of the US. It's likely that Trump is hoping his joining and endorsement of US-owned Triller will convince the tech giants that they can do without buying TikTok — especially when ByteDance values TikTok at some $50 billion, more than 50 times its projected revenue for 2020.
That said, there are some legitimate security concerns surrounding TikTok. The Chinese government can request user data from any company at any time. It has been suggested that this user data can be used in phishing campaigns in Chinese cyberwarfare to gain access to more sensitive information held in the US.
But, if Trump is really that concerned about the Chinese government being able to access sensitive US-held information and data, it surely makes sense to ban all Chinese-owned software products — not just an app whose users hold a general anti-Trump consensus.