- prohibited/ unsupported/ non-shippable; rules/ values & attitudes. There is a distinction between the rules of the government (and these rules are called “prohibited” – for instance: rules concerning the ammunition, weapons, explosive substance, toxic substance, radioactive substance, etc); the rules of the platform (and TikTok is well known for its “unsupported” rules concerning products like: medical devices, alcohol, tobacco, automotive exchange components, and so on and on); and the rules the sellers are abiding to (the “non-shippable” rules apply to such items as: objects made from animals and plants, soils, fertilizers and organic growing media, and the list is much more complex). See images 3 and 4. However, in her book “Douyin, TikTok and China’s online screen industry. The rise of short-video platforms”, Chunmeizi Su is presenting the interaction between three actors, and not four: the government, the platform and the users-creators-advertisers. What is missing from her presentation are the sellers and their rules. On the other hand, also the values & attitudes of the users-creators-advertisers (or more simple: followers and leaders) have a weak presentation. And this book, one of the most carefully written on the subject, has an insightful story to tell: starting with the presentation of the outside circle – the government/ the platform/ the users-creators-advertisers (see chapter 1); jumping then to the inner circle of the content (in the main chapters of the book: 2, 3, 4 and 5); the author ends up her journey with the algorithms – the black box of the process (also called: the skeletons in the closet or the elephant in the room) – that are regulating the relationships between the inner and the outer circle. See images 1 and 2
- BAT/ GAMFA/ FAANG. Chumneizi Su, in her article “Mapping international enquiries into the power of digital platforms” (2002) is saying: “GAMFA is an acronym used to refer to Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon”. If one is reading on, in the same article, (s)he will found out that: “FAANG was a term used by The New Yourk Time journalist Farhad Manjoo to described Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google (Manjoo, F. [2016, January 20]. “Tech’s frightul 5’ will dominate digital life for foreseeable future”, The New York Times.)”. Finally, concerning BAT, we could find more from Su’s article “The will to power. The BAT in and beyond China” (2018): “In China today the term BAT is synonymous with Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, known as the three kingdoms. Baidu is China’s equivalent of Google, Alibaba of eBay, while Tencent is a combination of What’s App and a number of innovative social media and payment services” Probably of much interest for this presentation is the fact that Baidu is losing considerable ground in favor of ByteDance with its two ghosts in the same shell: Douying and TikTok. Therefore, these distinctions between BAT, GAMFA and FANG concern the platforms.
- PGC/ UGC. These acronyms belong to the users-creators-advertisers – where PGC means: “ professional generated content” and UGC is standing for “user generated content”. The article “Contingency, precarity and short-video creativity. Platformization based analysis of Chinese online screen industry” (2022) is making clear the two types of reality: “For western platforms, the boundaries between Netflix and YouTube were clear until recently (…) YouTube is the house of UGC content, while Netflix specializes in PGC via its Originals”.
- PRC/ USA/ EU. These are the main governements concerned with the data on TikTok. PRC is a shorthand for “People’s Republic of China”. PRC is involved in censorship of its own Chinese platforms. However, USA also is the homeland of some American platforms, but is sensitive to the freedom of speech. This freedom of speech is also garanteed by EU even if there is no such thing as European platform. For further discussion on this subject, it is recommended the chapter written by Su: “Regulating Chinese and North American digital media in Australia. Facebook and WeChat as case studies” (2022).
- personalization/ exploitation/ regulation. This distinction is useful when discussing the role played by the algorithms: personalization of contents (i.e. the recommendations and predictions of the algorithms); exploitation of contents and accounts (i.e. the creation of fake account and the content transfer); and regulation of contents, accounts and algorithms (i.e. the interplay between choices and constraints offered to the users-creators-advertisers). As stated in the article “Data sovereignty and platform neutrality. A comparative study on TikTok’s data policy” (2023): “By reviewing the platforms’ [Douyin, TikTok and Facebook] data policy, it is evident what data are being collected (…) At the same time (…) a deeper logic is uncovered: how data are transferred and where it is stored, revealing a tug-of-war between platforms and governments over data ownership”. And further, with an emphasis on TikTok platform: 1) collection = “User content including user-generated content (UGC) identity and technical information, third-party records, browsing records, etc., will be collected”; 2) sharing = “Data will be shared with third-party service providers (e.g. cloud service providers), ByteDace’s subsidiaries, and law enforcement agencies or regulators (if it is required by local laws)”; 3) ownership = “All users’ data are considered non-proprietary and non-confidential”; and 4) storage = “Personal data may be stored outside of the country where users live in, that is, Singapore, US and other ByteDance-owned major servers internationally”
- streaming/ live streaming/ short-video. Up to this point, it was considered that concerning ByteDance platforms there are three actors involved: the government, the platform and the users-creators-advertisers. Also, a central role was paid to algorithm. And now it’s time to present also the distinction inside the content field. Considering this issue, Su says that Douyin and TikTok made their fame with short-video contents (a type of online content): “The online screen industry for example is considered the broadest term to encapsulate the sum of streaming services, short-video [services] and the livestreaming industry” (see: Contingency, precarity and short-video creativity. Platformization based analysis of Chinese online screen industry” (2022))
- Chunmeizi Su (2023): “Douyin, TikTok and China’s online screen industry. The rise of short-video platforms”, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
- Chunmeizi Su & Wenjia Tang (2023): “Data sovereignty and platform neutrality. A comparative study on TikTok’s data policy”, Global Media and China, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 57-71
- Chunmeizi Su (2023): “Contingency, precarity and short-video creativity. Platformization based analysis of Chinese online screen industry”, Television & New Media, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 173-189
- Terry Flew & Chunmeizi Su (2022): “Mapping international enquiries into the power of digital platforms”, CREATe Working Paper, 2022/2, pp. 1-39
- Chunmeizi Su (2022): “Regulating Chinese and North American digital media in Australia. Facebook and WeChat as case studies” in Terry Flew & Fiona R. Martin (eds): “Digital platform regulation”, Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 173-190
- Michael Keane & Chunmeizi Su (2018): “The will to power. The BAT in and beyond China” in Michael Keane, Brian Yecies & Terry Flew (eds): “Willing collaborators. Foreign partners in Chinese media”, Rowman & Littlefield International, pp. 47-61