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I tried the app TikTokers could embrace if a ban becomes reality — I'm not convinced it will attract Gen Zers

Lindsay Dodgson   

I tried the app TikTokers could embrace if a ban becomes reality — I'm not convinced it will attract Gen Zers
  • The clock is ticking for ByteDance to sell its US TikTok operations.
  • Clapper, a similar video platform, has been tested by creators as a potential alternative to TikTok.

The clock is ticking on ByteDance after President Joe Biden signed a bill last month that declared the company has to sell its US TikTok operations or face the app being banned in the US.

If TikTok does suddenly become unavailable, creators are wondering where they might go next.

Some have been trying out Clapper — a video platform that looks a lot like a TikTok dupe, which was set up mainly for millennials and Gen X users.

The app's founder, Edison Chen, described it as "a space for the older generations to feel more comfortable" in an interview with D Magazine last year and somewhere "the parents of TikTok users can express themselves."

In a blog post from 2022, Chen also said Clapper is not about videos becoming viral but about building a community and making friendships.

Some of its features highlight this focus. For example, the "Nearby" feature allows creators to see content made by people close to their location to find friends and connect with like-minded people.

The app also encourages users to use hashtags to connect them to creators with similar audiences.

Otherwise, if you can use TikTok, you can probably use Clapper. It's set up almost exactly the same way, with a "Following" tab and a "For You" tab and buttons for liking, commenting on, and sharing a video in the same place.

I'm not a parent, but I am a millennial. Like many in my age bracket, I'm also an avid TikTok user. Data from the Pew Research Center suggests that 40% of people on TikTok are in their 30s and 40s.

The dominant demographic on TikTok, though, remains Gen Zers, with various surveys estimating that somewhere between 50% and 76% of this age group use it.

Could Clapper be the next big thing among Zoomers if TikTok disappears? I'm not so sure.

Mixed reviews

A Clapper spokesperson told Business Insider the app has doubled its user base every year for the past three years, and daily active users have grown 400% since 2020.

The spokesperson said that since the House voted on a TikTok ban, Clapper has seen 30,000 new users. There are more than two million monthly active users currently, according to the latest estimates.

While the app heavily leans on Gen X and Y, the spokesperson said Clapper is adjusting its strategy "to appeal to younger audiences."

But reviews (posted to TikTok) have been mixed so far.

One creator, Shannon Lee, described the app as "kind of laggy." Another creator, named Allie, said: "It's pretty much like a clone of TikTok, but it does not compare in the slightest."


My 24hr #clapperapp update. There's so much I could say about the cotent on there... definitely not good. Have you used clapper? What are your thoughts? #tiktokban #socialmedia #tiktokhearing #tiktokus #contentcreator

♬ original sound - Allie | Content Strategist

Others like it, though. Rebecca Starkey, a creator with over 500,000 followers on TikTok, said she enjoyed that it is ad-free, that users had to be at least 17 years old, and that every video that shows up on the For You page has the same opportunity to go viral.

Other positives include an absence of filters and the fact that creators can start earning money immediately — unlike TikTok, where you have to have 10,000 followers before you can join its Creator Rewards Program.


So... What are you waiting for? #clapper #clapperapp #findmeonclapper #contentcreatortips

♬ original sound - Rebecca | Motherhood&Lifestyle

A bit old-school

I attempted to train my Clapper algorithm to feed me the content I wanted to see.

It's not totally fair to compare it to TikTok, which has known me and my tastes for years. Overall, though, I found the content on there a bit outdated.

My feed is full of cringe skits and pranks, as well as clips of people misjudging stunts and injuring themselves, reminiscent of "getting owned" compilations of the earlier internet.

Some recent videos served to me include a woman pretending to collapse in front of her partner and a gym-goer shrieking for help with her too-heavy weights. There are also some questionable comedy sketches on there that verge on sexism and give an overall air of lawlessness.

BI reached out to Clapper for comment on its policies, though its terms of service prohibit nudity and violence, impersonation, and posting content that isn't your own.

It would remind me a bit of early Vine, but a lot of content I'm being served seems to be reposted old clips scraped from YouTube and other platforms.

Back in 2021, a wave of conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers made their way to Clapper, seeing it as a "free speech" alternative to TikTok, where they had been banned.

I didn't come across any of this in my week on Clapper, but I did see plenty of other Facebook-generation content.

There are loads of videos about inspirational sportspeople and animal rescues, tailored to the people who are still enjoying the feel-good nature of Facebook's algorithm.

There are significantly fewer ads. Some creators are promoting products, but you're nowhere near as inundated with things to buy as you are on TikTok.

The main thing that's missing for me right now on Clapper is what the app claims to stand for — community. On Clapper, I'm watching without really thinking. It's rage bait without substance. It's consumption culture without an edge. I mean, what even is this?

Clapper is in its early stages, and that's fine. It takes a long time to build a social media circle, and it may just be I haven't found my people on there yet.

I don't think Clapper will see a huge uptick in Gen Z users unless there's a mass exodus there that can help it form more consistency and depth. This has happened before with Viners flocking to YouTube in 2016, so never say never.

Clapper is definitely providing something. But right now, I don't think it's quite what Zoomers are after.

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