Everything you need to know about Triller, the TikTok rival attracting huge names

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ByTebany Yune

TikTok is in an extremely unusual situation. There's some kind of deal going on between the company, Oracle, and Walmart, but it's likely it won't be completely sold (as President Trump initially demanded). Despite public awareness of the deal, there's still some confusion over who will take majority ownership, and, if the deal falls through, all bets are off and the app will be banned in the U.S.

On top of all this, some critics say the deal still puts American user data at risk, while others have complained that the whole ordeal is far less important than the fact that the U.S. has now hit 200,000 deaths from coronavirus.

With all this going on, it's not surprising some folks are interested in leaving TikTok for calmer waters. More specifically, they're leaving for Triller, arguably TikTok's biggest competitor. The app has recently attracted notable names like The Weeknd, Chance the Rapper, and Charli D'Amelio, but a lot of people still aren't sure exactly what it is, so here's a primer on everything you need to know about the app.

What is Triller?

Triller is a music video app with over 100 million active users. The platform has seen a nice bump in users thanks to India's TikTok ban and accusations of security risks from the U.S. government. The company, based in Los Angeles, was launched in 2015 as a social media platform catering to an older audience than TikTok. It initially focused on giving musicians and casual users a place to post clips of themselves singing and dancing to a song. Now, it has more features that are similar to TikTok, like allowing folks to make videos that aren't necessarily music-related.

"Before all of this, we used to tell people we're not competitive with TikTok," co-owner Ryan Kavanaugh told CNBC Make It.

That much seemed apparent as the company sponsored events like Mike Tyson's return to the boxing ring and TrillerFest, a three-day digital music festival. But it quickly got swept into competing with TikTok as figureheads like Donald Trump Jr. joined in protest of Chinese-owned apps.

Triller faces some competition with other services like Instagram's Reels, but it has been successful in attracting big TikTok names, such as Josh Richards and the D'Amelio family, which gives it a pretty good leg up in the social media world.

The difference between Triller and TikTok

So, is there actually a difference between the two platforms or is it all politics?

Honestly, they're pretty damn similar. If you're migrating from TikTok and are used to its tools, you won't have much of a learning curve. Triller features similar editing tools and sharing options and, like TikTok, fans viewing your videos don't need to have a Triller account to watch them, so you can post them to your other social media accounts, too. There's also video length limits to keep your videos short. And of course no social media platform would be complete without plenty of tabs to explore other people's videos.

However, Triller's focus on music is really evident. You can listen to a full music track right on the platform, use music from the app's library for your videos, or use your own tunes from your Apple Music or Spotify collections. The "Discover" page also sorts by music genres as well as hastags.

Another key difference is the way the platforms edit your videos. Triller uses A.I. to help edit your videos and keep you on-beat with the song, while TikTok allows the user to edit however they like. Triller is also continuing to add new editing features and options as the app's userbase grows.

Should you make the switch?

Ultimately, the choice to move from Triller to TikTok depends on your reasons for moving. But Triller is a pretty good choice if you're looking for longevity. In contrast to Facebook's Lasso, the company's other attempt to copy TikTok's success, Triller shows a lot of signs of hanging around thanks to additional funding injections and sponsorship deals.

To top it off, it's a U.S.-based company, which hopefully means the government will be less likely to poke at it for any foreign security reasons.

As wild as it seems to connect TikTok, of all things, with politics, it's important to note that even if TikTok is saved through a deal with Oracle and Walmart, it will still be under the spotlight and harshly scrutinized as it continues operating in the states. Frankly, the company's future doesn't look terribly bright as it becomes further embroiled in the increasing tension between the U.S. and China.