Welcome back to HotToks, where we explain 'the why' behind each viral TikTok trend, tap into key cultural moments, cover app updates, and share how to plan your TikTok marketing strategy. This time around we cover the influencer group Hype House, Google's new features including Exploration and Neighborhood Vibe in competition with TikTok search, and impactful videos raising awareness and protesting the death of Mahsa Amini.
A Hype House contract was leaked to Business Insider, and a couple of lawyers in the industry have given it a once-over. Here’s the skinny (from a professional and slightly-less-professional standpoint). For those unaware, the Hype House is another one of those influencer groups who live and create content together. But they’re different: they’re very famous. Netflix-show-famous. And if you still don’t know them, TikTok creators (turned megastars) Addison Rae, Charli and Dixie D’Amelio hailed from the Hype House.
Influencer contracts can be a mystery for many, but thanks to Business Insider, we were able to get a crystal clear look at how one of the biggest content creator groups functions when cameras are off. Content creators in this house receive little to no support, particularly in terms of compensation, The Hype House really doesn’t do much to stand up for its creators. According to one of their ‘house rules,’ “any images with or without yourself and your name or any pseudo names of yours may be publicly shared. You agree that you are not to receive any compensation for any videos and/or photos as referenced herein.” Other rules include not disclosing any members’ confidential information, not disparaging members’ reputations or doing anything that may cause embarrassment to other members and more. With only 11 rules, this house agreement seemingly covers everything from maintaining cleanliness and keeping contact information current to compensation (or lack thereof).
Needless to say, two legal experts who both work within the social media space, took a look and noted that the house contract is missing the “standard provisions” they’re used to seeing from other contracts in the influencer space. When reviewing the contract, one of the lawyers, Jillyn Hess-Verdon, says “it's a contract surrendering all of your rights regarding any connection to Hype House.” The only benefits for creators seems to be the potential boost of social media following and free housing.
"You don’t get sick days in this job. If you get a sick day, you lose followers, which is a loss of revenue, which is, you know, your job.” - Alex Warren, Hype House creator
Earlier this year when the Hype House reality series was released on Netflix, we were able to catch a glimpse of what life is really like for these twenty-something creators living in Los Angeles. And it’s dark and sad. On social media, what’s pictured is a funky fresh face doing a trending TikTok dance, but what’s not pictured is days and nights of creator’s-block and feeling uninspired. Alex Warren, a Hype House creator confessed, “you don’t get sick days in this job. If you get a sick day, you lose followers, which is a loss of revenue, which is, you know, your job.” And this Hype House contract leak further sheds light on the harsh reality of the lives of young, Gen Z content creators trying to make it on social media.
Pack it up or kick it up a notch, Google, you’re being replaced.
Back in July, Google exec Prabhakar Raghavan, who oversees the world-renown search engine, admitted that 40% of people aged 18-24 were actually turning to social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram to look up questions that would’ve traditionally flowed to Google Search or Google Maps, like “what’s for lunch,” for example.
It’s 2022, and video is all the rage. No longer are we content with just reading, we need to watch, we need to see, we need to hear. And this is very evident with TikTok. Since its rise to fame, it really hasn’t been able to catch a breath. Instagram created Reels, and YouTube created Shorts (and are upping its monetization for creators to rival TikTok).
Taking “inspiration” from its larger-than-life competitors, Instagram and TikTok, Google is amping up its features, and have announced more incorporation of videos (even TikTok ones) and photos to search result pages. A new feature called “Exploration” is brewing at Google HQ, which will, according to Wired, “display search results in a continuous scroll of tiles showing photos and videos that more closely resembles a social media feed than a list of links.” Google Engineering VP, Cathy Edwards, frames it as helping people search for inspiration rather than answers to things.
As for our other trusty friend Google Maps, they are implementing a feature called “Neighborhood Vibe,” (yes, that is what it’s called; note the Gen Z language) where users can associate a real-life visual of a neighborhood to complement the map view.
We know that Gen Z users favor TikTok because of its dynamic and interactive search results, with one user who uses the app to look for restaurants in LA noting that, on TikTok, “you see how the person actually felt about where they ate.”
As such, VP of Geo, Christopher Phillips, is saying that this more visually forward approach for the new Google feature was influenced by younger users’ usage patterns and preferences and would make information more easily digestible for older and younger crowds alike. But this “more visual approach” is just giving TikTok. Despite worries about spreading misinformation on TikTok, it’s becoming a go-to search engine for many Gen Zers, effectively coming for Google’s whole identity.
So the question remains… Hey Google, can you keep up?
We’ve seen People over Prime. We’ve seen the callout (and cancellation) of James Corden’s “Spill Your Guts” segment. Now, TikTokers are standing up again to raise awareness for the death of Mahsa Amini.
Mahsa was from a small town called Saqez, and at the time she was detained, she was with her brother visiting their uncle in Tehran. She was then confronted by the “morality” officers for violating proper hijab-wearing rules. These officers are part of a special unit dedicated to detaining people who violate Iran’s conservative dress code. She was eventually transferred to the hospital after being detained, and her family was left in the dark regarding her condition. Tehran police said she was arrested for the purpose of “education” of the hijab and that she died from a “sudden” heart attack, which her family refuted because she had no prior heart conditions. Witnesses accused police officers of forcing her into and beating her inside of a van, a claim that human rights organizations and her family are saying warrants an investigation.
Across the world, and the world of social media, people and human rights activists are protesting and speaking out against the injustice of Amini’s death. On the day of Amini’s funeral, protests broke out on the streets of Iran, showing women removing their headscarves and violating the hijab-wearing rules. Muslim and Iranian women all over the world are joining on TikTok to protest the situation by taking their hijab off and cutting their hair, drawing much needed attention to the situation. In particular, this type of video has been replicated many times. #mahsaamini now has over 897M views on the platform.
As much as TikTok can be a funny, light-hearted platform for niche jokes, it can also lend itself to a great platform and space for discussion, attention, and change. Again and again, we are clearly seeing TikTok rise as a platform for encouraging meaningful change and sharing of information, and in circumstances like these, we’re grateful for that.
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March 30, 2023