TikTok, Boom: Shalini Kantayya’s Documentary on the App Unveils the Pros & Cons – Review

“TikTok, Boom”, Exploring the World of TikTok

The app for the Gen Z, TikTok, is more than just a short video format, quirky app. Shalini Kantayya, the American filmmaker and activist highlights it in her documentary. She explores the various layers of TikTok in her documentary “TikTok, Boom.”

Back in September 2021, the app crossed over 1 billion users. It is spreading among the youth like wildfire. This video based social networking service features short form videos. It includes dance, tricks from 15 seconds to 3 minutes. It is bigger than Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or YouTube in terms of downloads.

Shalini Kantayya's TikTok, Boom”, Review
Instagram/ Shalini Kantayya

TikTok the App for the Youth

This documentary dives into all the problems that arise because of it’s usage. It features a couple of TikTok influencers. For instance, Spencer X, Deja Foxx, ace beatboxer. Although the platform seems like a great place for the underappreciated voices to express themselves. It is much more underneath.

A Chinese company called ByteDance owns the app. It has been accused of data mining before. It targets the user, extracts information and then pitch products to them. However, the documentary does not deeply explore this side.

Shalini Kantayya's TikTok, Boom”, Review
Instagram/ Shalini Kantayya

The Strict Algorithm

There is a feel-good aspect to this app. Wherein these 60 second videos make one feel better. An escape, per say. “TikTok, Boom”, reveals that the app is quite superficial. Behind all this lies a very clever algorithm that runs the app. The first version of TikTok released in China, Douyin had very strict rules. The app didn’t allow anyone with tattoos to appear.

Kantayya, touches on the subject of “shadowbanning”. The app previously censored a lot of hashtags. For example, anything with the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter or #GeorgeFloyd were banned. And they blamed it on a “technical glitch”.

Sabine Hoffman wrote the script for the movie and the film recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.