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TikTok teaching? U of T researchers study the social media platform's use in academia – News@UofT

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In a bid to shine a spotlight on their research and make it more accessible, academics around the world are following in the footsteps of their students and taking to TikTok to share videos. 

The trend is being highlighted by a team of researchers at the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information. The researchers looked at the different ways academics, educators and scholarly communities are using TikTok, the popular social media platform that specializes in short-form user-generated videos, to share knowledge – from Gothic architecture explainers to weight loss tips.

In particular, the researchers examined user behaviour, concerns about youth engagement, data and privacy implications, the technical features of the app and the visual aspect of scholarly contribution.

“If watching YouTube is like sitting in a lecture, then using TikTok is like having a conversation,” says study co-lead JP King, a sessional instructor at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design who works as KMDI’s data visualization and graphic designer. “TikTok provides a fun place to create new forms of accessible learning shared outside of classrooms, textbooks, and conference halls.

Led by King and Associate Professor Sara Grimes, director of KMDI, four graduate students with an interest in critical media literacy reviewed TikTok videos made by academics for the study. The team also analyzed more than 100 journal articles, books and research papers focused on TikTok, social media, technology and digital rights. Their study recommends some best practices for academics using TikTok, which ranks as the fourth most popular social media platform after YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram (see below).

The researchers found that TikTok videos often tend to be “amateurish” and offer a peek behind the scenes. The estimated 20 million-plus daily users, who are mostly under 30, embrace a less professional approach and don’t feel the need to make everything perfect. They may simply record themselves with their smartphones with no special lighting or makeup. While this might feel out of place on Instagram or YouTube, it is acceptable if not expected on TikTok.

TikTok is also unique in how it encourages active engagement. Users can remix one another’s videos or produce creative responses towards others’ content. At the same time, however, users risk having their video or audio remixed or repurposed without their permission if they don’t adjust their privacy settings accordingly. 

“You might make a sincere video explaining your research that someone else turns into a song or a joke,” the study warns academics. “Decide now if you’re comfortable with that possibility.”

The study’s authors attributed the phenomenon at least partly to a generational shift around intellectual property. Without bibliographies or citations, TikTok videos can challenge the sense of ownership that academic communities have traditionally had around ideas. “It’s more difficult to maintain ownership of your ideas online, and you can’t control how people will use your imagery or audio. Researchers must be aware of this fact, and be thoughtful when they are publishing content,” King says.

The researcher say that academics also need to understand the large impact that a single video could have on their personal brand. If their personal views clash with institutional values, there could be pushback from the academic community and repercussions from administrators. Even though tenured faculty members have academic freedom, they may not get a free pass if they use TikTok in ways their colleagues consider out of line, the researchers warn.

What’s more, an outsized social media profile won’t necessarily enhance a scholar’s professional status. “In simple terms, a million followers won’t guarantee you tenure or a promotion,” says King.

Above all, it’s a way to spread the word, possibly dispelling popular myths with facts and encouraging an audience to think about a topic from a different perspective. Casey Fiesler, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, runs a popular TikTok account that often challenges viewers to consider the problems with Facebook’s domination of the online experience. It’s possible to imagine a teenager finding one of Fiesler’s videos tucked between dance trends and dog tricks and questioning Facebook for the first time, according to King.

“TikTok offers enormous potential for the discovery of critical ideas,” he says. “This is why using TikTok effectively is crucial. Sharing research with an audience outside of the academy brings together people with diverse educational backgrounds. TikTok offers an exciting new way to find like-minded thinkers, makes research accessible, and start important conversations.” 

 Here are a few of the study’s recommendations for best practices on how scholarly communities can engage:

  • Keep your videos short and simple: Less than one minute is ideal because online attention spans are shorter than in-person ones
  • Use storytelling and humour to make your content more accessible: You are competing with all the other content online, so lighten the mood by telling a story or adding unique humour
  • Find ways to engage people instead of speaking to themInvite users to try out an experiment for themselves and create a video reply with their results
  • Get your data from TikTok so you know what’s being tracked. Remember social media lives forever: You might be surprised by how well TikTok knows you. Download your data and decide for yourself if you are comfortable with TikTok having this information and selling it without your knowledge
  • Be aware that your video or audio may be remixed or repurposed without your permission, unless you change your privacy settings: You might make a sincere video explaining your research that someone else turns into a song or a joke. Decide now if you’re comfortable with that possibility

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Trump's social media venture says it has raised $1B – Vancouver Sun

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He is working to launch a social media app called TRUTH Social that is at least several weeks away.

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Donald Trump’s new social media venture said on Saturday it had entered into agreements to raise about $1 billion from a group of unidentified investors as it prepares to float in the U.S. stock market.

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The capital raise, details of which were first reported by Reuters on Wednesday, underscored the former U.S. president’s ability to attract strong financial backing thanks to his personal and political brand. He is working to launch a social media app called TRUTH Social that is at least several weeks away.

Digital World Acquisition Corp, the blank-check acquisition firm that will take Trump Media & Technology Group Corp public by listing it in New York, said it will provide up to $293 million to the partnership with Trump’s media venture, taking the total proceeds to about $1.25 billion.

The $1 billion will be raised through a private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction from “a diverse group of institutional investors,” Trump Media and Digital World said in a statement. They did not respond to requests to name the investors.

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Trump Media inked its deal with Digital World to go public in October at a valuation of $875 million, including debt. The social media venture is now valued at almost $4 billion based on the price of Digital World shares at the end of trading on Friday. Trump supporters and day traders snapped up the stock.

Many Wall Street firms such as mutual funds and private equity firms snubbed the opportunity to invest in the PIPE. Among those investors who participated were hedge funds, family offices and high net-worth individuals, Reuters reported on Wednesday. Family offices manage the wealth of the very rich and their kin.

Some Wall Street investors are reluctant to associate with Trump. He was banned from top social media platforms after the Jan. 6 attack by his supporters on the U.S. Capitol amid concerns he would inspire further violence. The Capitol attack was based on unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in last year’s presidential election.

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“As our balance sheet expands, Trump Media & Technology Group will be in a stronger position to fight back against the tyranny of Big Tech,” Trump said in a statement on Saturday.

The deal also faces regulatory risk. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren asked Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler last month to investigate the planned merger for potential violations of securities laws around disclosure. The SEC has declined to comment on whether it plans any action.

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Trump Media and Digital World said the per-share conversion price of the convertible preferred stock PIPE transaction represents a 20% discount to Digital World’s volume-weighted average closing price for the five trading days to Dec. 1, when Reuters broke news of the capital raise.

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If that price averages below $56 in the 10 days after the merger with Digital World has been completed, the discount will grow to 40% with a floor of $10, the companies added. Digital World shares ended trading on Friday $44.97.

Trump had 89 million followers on Twitter, 33 million on Facebook and 24.5 million on Instagram at the time he was blocked, according to a presentation on his company’s website.

Investors attending the confidential investor road shows were shown a demo from the planned social media app, which looked like a Twitter feed, Reuters reported.

FIRST-QUARTER ROLLOUT

Since Trump was voted out of office last year, he has repeatedly dropped hints that he might seek the presidency in 2024.

Special purpose acquisition companies such as Digital World had lost much of their luster with retail investors before the Trump media deal came along. Many of these investors were left with big losses after the companies that merged with SPACs failed to deliver on their ambitious financial projections.

TRUTH Social is scheduled for a full rollout in the first quarter of 2022. It is the first of three stages in the Trump Media plan, followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that will feature entertainment, news and podcasts, according to the news release.

In a slide deck on its website, the company envisions eventually competing against Amazon.com’s AWS cloud service and Google Cloud.

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Trump social media company claims to raise $1bn from investors – The Guardian

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Trump social media company claims to raise $1bn from investors  The Guardian



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Trump's new social media company says it has $1 billion in funding lined up – National | Globalnews.ca – Global News

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Donald Trump‘s new social media company and its special purpose acquisition company partner say the partner has agreements for $1 billion in capital from institutional investors.

The former president launched his new company, Trump Media & Technology Group, in October. He unveiled plans for a new messaging app called “Truth Social” to rival Twitter and the other social media platforms that banned him following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

TMTG’s plan is to become a publicly listed company through a merger with the publicly traded Digital World Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company whose sole purpose is to acquire a private company and take it public.

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Trump tested positive for COVID-19 days before Biden debate, ex aide says

The institutional investors were not identified in a press release issued Saturday by Trump Media and Digital World. The money would come from “a diverse group” of investors after the two companies are combined, it said.

Digital World said in the release that the $1 billion is above the $293 million (minus expenses) that it may invest.

“I am confident that TMTG can effectively deploy this capital to accelerate and strengthen the execution of its business, including by continuing to attract top talent, hire top technology providers, and roll out significant advertising and business development campaigns,” Digital World CEO Patrick Orlando said in the release.

Trump is listed as chair of TMTG. He will get tens of millions in special bonus shares if the combined company performs well, handing the former president possibly billions of dollars in paper wealth.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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