Trump's on Triller, but what is it? US president verified on TikTok competitor

As the White House moves to ban TikTok, apps such as Triller are gaining more users

Trump’s Triller account has 4,100 followers and his first video has received more than a million views. The channel has three short videos, two of which criticise Trump’s opponent for the presidency, Joe Biden. @donaldjtrump / Triller
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US President Donald Trump now has a verified account on Triller, a video-sharing app that is a rival to TikTok.

The account @donaldjtrump had 4,100 followers at the time of publishing, but his first video has already received more than a million views. Trump’s channel has three short videos in all, two of which attack his opponent for the presidency, Joe Biden.

The White House has tried to ban the popular Chinese-owned app TikTok  in the US, stating it could be used as a tool for Chinese intelligence and pose a threat to national security.

On August 6, Trump signed an executive order that would prohibit certain transactions with TikTok unless the app’s parent company, ByteDance, divests it within 45 days. The order would effectively ban the app from the US market, as American companies would be unable to advertise on the platform or make the app available to download.

Despite anger from TikTok fans, the Trump administration continues its fight against the app and the company. On Friday, Trump ordered ByteDance to sell its US assets within 90 days.

Uncertainty over TikTok’s future has led to a surge in downloads of similar apps, including Triller, which has reported 700,000 downloads in the US in the past month.

What is Triller?

Founded in 2015, two years before TikTok, Triller allows users to make their own music videos and share them within the platform. It is owned by Proxima Media, an American company. People can film themselves singing or rapping along to a song, and Triller’s artificial intelligence stitches the best clips together to make a video.

It has about 65 million users, a small figure in comparison with TikTok’s 800 million, though it hopes to catch up. On August 2, the company announced it had ranked number one in 50 countries, including the US, UK, France, Australia, Brazil and Germany. The app is also available in the UAE.

With TikTok’s potential ban, Triller is seizing the opportunity to recruit big names from the app on to its platform. The most recent example is social media influencer Josh Richards, who has more than 20 million followers on TikTok and has recently encouraged his fans to follow him on Triller.

Triller vs TikTok

While TikTok is filled with various genres of content, from comedy to fitness, gardening to food, animals to art, Triller remains mostly a music app. It allows users to upload full songs on to the platform from their Apple Music or Spotify playlists, but TikTok maintains its 15-second limit.

TikTok’s ByteDance also reportedly aims to disrupt the music industry with plans to launch its own streaming service. Triller has also shown willingness to expand its content remit, such as with its upcoming live-stream of a fight between former boxers Mike Tyson and Roy Jones in November.

TikTok’s discovery page is categorised into trending hashtags. Its homepage features a “For You” section with clips selected according to users’ interests. Triller’s discovery page shows trending and top videos. It also has a leaderboard page that ranks users by popularity and can be filtered according to geography.

When it comes to editing, TikTok gives users more control over the editing process, enabling them to apply various effects. Triller’s appeal is that the AI does most of the editing for the user, choosing the clips that best match the beat of the song.

The two apps use their artificial intelligence technology differently. TikTok’s AI analyses user behaviour on the app to provide a personalised content feed for each person, while Triller’s tech seems to be more focused on analysing biometric movements within videos and synchronising them with the music.

As for monetising on the apps, Triller and TikTok also differ in their approaches. While TikTok has introduced ads on the platform, Triller’s model centres on influencers raising money from fans or creating their own advertising partnerships.

The rise of TikTok competitors

In June, TikTok was banned in India, along with 59 other Chinese-owned apps such as Tencent's WeChat. It had about 200 million users in the country.

As TikTok faces a similar fate in the US, similar apps are gaining popularity. There’s Byte, developed by the creator of Vine, the app that pioneered the short-form video format and cemented its popularity.

This month, Instagram launched its new video feature, Reels. It works similarly to TikTok, letting users create, edit and upload 15-second videos.

At the moment, TikTok is holding on to its top title. The question of which other app will – or even can – win millions of users over to its side remains unanswered.