Transcript for TikTok's biggest stars reveal what makes the platform so popular
Reporter: Crazy stunts, coordinated dance offs, and of course viral challenges. Welcome to tik Tok. The app that is taking social media by storm. We went deep into this new world spending time with some of it's most popular creators. Like baby Ariel. Meeting blanco brown, the voice behind one of its biggest hits. And following rising stars hoping for a breakthrough. Yet amid all the fun are new national security concerns about tik Tok's Chinese ownership. Including serious allegations of censorship. I think the fact that they're so tightly connected to China is a huge issue as they become more and more central to global culture. Reporter: It's all part of a new digital landscape, built one snappy video at a time. If you haven't heard of tik Tok, you're not alone. For all the moms out there, what is tik Tok? Reporter: Reese Witherspoon needed a tutorial from her 16 year old son deacon. This is so embarrassing. Reporter: To become a tik tok-er. She is just one of the millions of people who have discovered the app, which a mashup of clever short form videos, often set to catchy beats. Why did it explode the way it has? Every day you open it up and it's full of different memes or trends you can engage with. And it's really really addicting. Reporter: Ryan Broderick covers web culture for buzzfeed. So some of the stuff is incredibly cinematic. Some of it is just music videos. Some of it's getting a teacher to dance with you in a hallway. It's kind of whatever kids can come up with and that's why it's so exciting but also why you can get really crazy really fast I think. Reporter: Ariel martin, aka baby Ariel, has mastered the terrain of tik Tok, perfecting the art of lipsyncing to songs like "Who let the dogs out" or "All I want for Christmas is you." Or "Who let the dogs out" and creating innovative performance art. Let's talk numbers. How big are you? How big am I. I am -- I have, ugh I hate talking about this. I am twenty nine million on tik How does that make you feel. I mean. I guess it's like it's a beautiful thing. I just want to express love and positivity and as much as I possibly can. Reporter: She was one of the first to build a following on the platform back when it was still known as musical.ly. You have people like creating movies and TV shows and they're getting paid lots of money. And this is another form of that. It's a job. I mean, it's what I do. Reporter: We met Ariel at the grove in Los Angeles. At the new Dominique Ansel restaurant How did you realize you were good at tiktok? How did I realize I was good at tik Tok? I think everyone is good at tik Tok. That's that can't be true. Yes it can. I think everybody can be good at anything. Reporter: She moved from Florida to California as her tik Tok fame opened doors for her in Hollywood. She just landed a role in Disney channel's "Zombies two." And is launching her own music career. She's directing herself in her cover of Lou reed's "Walk on the wild side," an ode to acceptance. I want to direct movies one day so that's like my main goal, that's where I want to be in a few years. Reporter: Ariel is just 18 years old. Her parents have supported her tik Tok career every step of the way. In the beginning I remember going, oh my gosh. Like first it was hundred thousand. Hundred thousand people do you understand what that is. And now it's interesting because it's sort of what becomes you know like that becomes like sort of like the new normal. Reporter: So much of the content on tiktok is created by teenagers in their bedrooms. That intimacy and exposure could be fertile ground for ogling eyes and predatory comments. It's something Ariel is aware of. To what degree should people who use the platform feel safe about that sort of faceless interaction. I think that goes with anything really no matter what you do. Be safe, tell people what you're doing, where you're doing, what you're doing, how you're doing it, where you're going, what you're wearing. Reporter: Tik Tok says it is working to keep it's young user safe and just released these videos made by popular creators. Showing how to do things like filter comments. Block people. Or report inappropriate content. Tik Tok is adamant that the platform is a joyful place. But they are not immune to the perils of the digital world. Tik Tok had to take down accounts related to ISIS. Tik Tok deleted the videos and permanently banned the accounts. And the company itself. And the company itself. Which is owned by Chinese artificial intelligence startup bytedance is now being investigated by congress over allegations of censorship and improper data collection and So I think tik Tok is stuck in a really tough spot with the fact that their parent company is Chinese because they're trying very hard to be a western app. But there are all kinds of rumors about how involved the Chinese government is in the Reporter: The company would not answer our questions. Reporter: The company adding the China does not control the content of tik Tok in the united States. Our us team makes decisions that we see as best for the us market, and we are given the Independence to do so. Reporter: None of this is scaring away the droves of teens and young adults who are flocking to tik Tok. I am asked all the time what is the magical ingredient to taking off on tik Tok? And I always come back to the same thing. On tik Tok you truly are celebrated for just being yourself. Reporter: Kudzi chikumbu is the director of the creative community at tik Tok. He promotes creators like drea Okeke, aka drea knows best. As much as it is fun and entertaining, it truly comes from a special place. And like that should always be cherished and held very safe. Reporter: At it's heart, music makes tik Tok tick. The biggest hit of 2019, "Old town road," first blew up on tik Tok. I got the horses in the back "Old town road," which fused hip hop and country, paved the way for more unconventional breakouts like blanco brown's "The git up." What a journey you've been on. How did you get here? Man, I pulled up an SUV. Reporter: Blanco brown has been making music his whole life, producing for some of the biggest names in the industry. I was always in the background, you know? Afraid to be in the forefront. The nerves always get me and I really wasn't the greatest at singing because I did have the confidence. So, I mean, like, it's been a journey. Reporter: He wrote "The git up," released this tutorial on the steps and a tik Tok challenge was born. What goes through your mind when you see people? Being happy and joyful and dancing because of something you created. Man, I get emotional like, um, oh, you know, I'm I'm holding back tears now, you know, and it's a surreal moment. Reporter: "The git up" changed Cameron campbells life too. The 25 year old posted this video of him doing the dance at this job at an Indiana Walmart and it went viral. One of my videos actually went viral. I just started blowing up after that and people started contacting me and saying would you model for aeropostale and all that stuff. Reporter: Now camodancer94 is one of the new faces of aeropostale. One of the brands turning to tik Tok to find the next fresh face and reach its young users. They brought him to New York for this photo shoot where he did the dance that made him tik Tok famous. Reporter: We watch as the views pour in. The power of tik Tok on full display. It just keeps going. Reporter: Cameron has his quit his job at Walmart to become a full time tik tok-er. Hoping to reach the same heights as creators like baby Ariel. He's blazing his own path in this digital world. Up next, the 2020 contenders at age 20.
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