TikTok has dominated social media in recent years. One unique attraction of the app is the freedom to express oneself through content.
Additionally, with the gift feature, viewers can give gifts, essentially monetary donations, to content creators. This has turned TikTok into a source of income for some individuals.
Ironically, this phenomenon has led to unhealthy practices, as many people are willing to do anything to earn money on TikTok.
A team of UGM students participating in the Student Creativity Program in Social Sciences and Humanities Research, consisting of Bulan Churniati (English Literature 2021), Zahra Hafizha Rahma (Communication Science 2021), Regan Alim Tsaqif (Psychology 2022), Aisyah Azka (Geography 2020), and Faruq Saifudin Nurrohman (Animal Science 2021), has uncovered interesting facts about this phenomenon.
Under the guidance of their faculty advisor, Syaifa Tania, the team conducted research involving 401 active TikTok users on a national scale.
“We researched 401 individuals, and from that number, we selected five individuals to participate in offline focus group discussions and three for online interviews,” explained Zahra Rahma.
“Among the respondents, 348 agreed that the gifts given by viewers during live streaming of online gift-giving content provide income for the live streamer. Additionally, 293 individuals agreed that online gift-giving content is an act of exploitation for financial gain.”
The research suggests that some actions exploit people’s empathy, prompting users to donate.
Consequently, various other forms of content have emerged that exploit TikTok as a new source of wealth. These contents vary from entertaining to harmful. This phenomenon is referred to as a form of modern economic exploitation.
Moreover, the research also revealed various opinions about the increasing trend of online gift-giving content.
Most respondents, ranging from 229 to 280 individuals, stated that this behavior is dangerous, lacks legal protection, results in injustice, and is immoral. As a result, people begin to view instant wealth obtainable through TikTok and imitate these contents.
The presence of online gift-giving content also suggests that users are willing to do anything, including inappropriate and dangerous acts, to receive gifts from viewers. This is concerning because TikTok users come from various age groups, including minors.
This research will not remain solely a research result. Bulan Churniati and the team have also initiated a campaign to raise the public’s awareness about the online gift-giving phenomenon.
“The research conducted is not limited to seeking knowledge but also disseminating the necessary understanding among the public about this phenomenon,” said team leader Bulan Churniati.
“We hope that after this research is complete, TikTok as a platform, the government, and the community will take more positive actions to collectively address, sanction, and stop all forms of modern exploitation and the act of gift-giving associated with it.”