What is TikTok? How a short-form video app took over the internet

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By Kalhan Rosenblatt

On TikTok, the app that is suddenly everywhere on the internet, a certain genre of videos all start the same way: a first-person view of an arm reaching into a refrigerator while the intro to the Village People song “YMCA” plays.

The person behind the camera pulls out some food — an egg or a piece of cheese or even a tortilla — walks it into another room, and, as the song’s horn section kicks in, the food is whipped into the face of another person.

The video abruptly ends before showing the reaction of the person, sometimes literally with egg on their face.

The sneak attacks are just one of the many different jokes, pranks, memes and trends that trace their origin back to TikTok. And while the app has become wildly popular in its own right, videos created on its platform are making their way onto other platforms and across the internet.

A YouTube search turns up an almost inexhaustible list of TikTok compilations, and TikTok videos are routinely uploaded to Twitter, where they can amass millions of views.

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