Research Perspectives on TikTok & Its Legacy Apps| From Musical.ly to TikTok: Social Construction of 2020’s Most Downloaded Short-Video App
High-quality smartphone cameras and user preferences for visual expression propelled the proliferation of short-video apps. This article takes a closer look at the emergence of one such app—Musical.ly (i.e., TikTok as we know it today). Using the social construction of technology as a theoretical lens, the article demonstrates how Musical.ly was co-constructed through the interplay among the app, its users (preteens), and nonusers (parents and regulatory bodies), while acknowledging the specific social and cultural context in which it emerged. The article argues that parents’ and preteens’ diverging interpretations of Musical.ly as a creativity tool, on one hand, and an adult-free social network centered around performativity and play, on the other, appeased moral panic that typically surrounds children’s digital media use and supported the app’s rapid uptake.