Buy multiple credit cards with different expiration dates. Spend max on the first, use another to pay it off, then repeat with a third and a fourth and so on to live off the debt forever.
It’s an absurd and financially dangerous idea, of course, but it was the perfect life hack for Tommy Zippler. At least that’s how he stopped it a video from October 11 to its 1.6 million followers on TikTok, where the post has been viewed more than 430,000 times.
Zippler, who uses @kingzippy in the viral video sharing app, says he thought of the idea as he got ready to pay his credit card bills. “I know it’s not possible, but I also knew people would kick it and think it would actually work,” said the 30-year-old from Blackwood, New Jersey. “It just goes to show how easy it is to spread fake information on TikTok. I think some users might actually give it a try. Hopefully they don’t. “
While Zippler’s profile page notes that all of its “videos are jokes,” TikTok users usually don’t see such details. Instead, the app’s mysterious algorithm feeds its 800 million – and growing – users an endless series of videos customized based on their interests. It influences pop culture and shapes the lives of the Millennium and Gen Z audiences. The variety of content is vast and often defies categorization – everything from synchronized dance videos to comedy to a ‘banana that pleases’ (only look at it.)
This year, as the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked economic havoc around the world, young people have increasingly turned to TikTok as a source of financial knowledge and tips for managing their money. Hashtags like #sidehustle, #personalfinance, #investing and #stocktips have drawn millions of views in just a few months, and videos on how to become a millionaire by age 22, what credit card to get, or how to open a brokerage account , have become regular programming.
Hootsuite estimates 69% of TikTok users be between 13 and 24 years old. The app’s short videos on personal finance topics are more engaging and fun than what a financial industry professional could provide. But the scattered nature of the content and the focus on virality over facts means it’s difficult to separate reasonable lessons from ideas that are misinformed, malicious, or just plain joke, such as Zippler’s credit card “hack.”
The speed at which information can blow through TikTok and the sheer size of its potential audience may encourage people to offer promises of easy money or stock tips in exchange for ‘likes’ on their posts and more followers, said Kelley Cotter, a postdoctoral researcher. from the School of Social & Behavioral Sciences at Arizona State University.
“People optimize their videos for entertainment. They’re not necessarily that diligent about controlling information, and that’s not really a big concern,” Cotter said. people’s attention so that I can continue to support myself and achieve my goals? “
Interest in personalized financial advice on TikTok coincided with another popular pandemic pastime for millennials and Gen Z: stock trading on platforms such as Robinhood. In just a few months, some have gained millions of followers by offering tips on how to trade and which stocks to buy. They often send people to take further steps, such as buying $ 300 courses on their personal websites or joining their channels on the Discord communications app where they provide more advice.
On August 10th @ 14th. Drongryan urged people to follow him for investment advice after a 970% rise in the stock of a company he recommended, Callon Petroleum Co. price of its shares from about $ 1 to $ 10 – a strategy that does not change the market value. When @ 14th.ryan posted another video in which he said that he is “not an expert at all” and that “I am not liable” if someone followed his advice. The original video is still up and has 1.1 million views, while the follow-up has been viewed around 31,500 times. @ 14th.ryan did not respond to a request for comment.
TikTok says its users have shown an interest in personal finance and investments, with #sidehustle and #makemoney as top hashtags related to the topic. The company will delete messages and accounts that conflict with it Guidance for the community, which it identifies through a combination of technology that automatically flags content to its moderation team for review, as well as reports it receives, a spokesman said.
“We do not allow anyone to misuse our platform to harm others, including plans to defraud individuals or steal assets,” the guidelines said. “We are removing content that willfully deceive people to gain an unlawful financial advantage.” The company has not provided details on how the algorithm works, or specific examples of content that has been reviewed or removed.
TikTok’s appeal is its simplicity. Dry or complicated financial topics like taxes, investing or retirement planning are broken down and explained in no more than 60 seconds, complete with background music, visual filters, colorful text and even dancing. But this multimedia format means it’s much more difficult to control compared to the text-rich content on Twitter and Facebook, according to Cotter of Arizona State University.
The videos have an impact in real life, sometimes in a good way. In the past year, 21-year-old Brandon To has made major changes in his financial life. He started contributing to a tax-free savings account, opened a retirement fund, invested in his first brokerage account, and started a business, all within a few months.
Stuck during the pandemic, he discovered financial influencers on TikTok and became obsessed with the idea that he could become financially independent and retire early. “Before TikTok, I wasn’t very motivated at school, I just wanted to finish college and get a job,” said To, who lives in Vancouver.
While browsing the app, he came across a video which, through simple terms and the use of pictures and illustrations, explained how setting up a limited liability company could help him pay less tax.
The knowledge he gained encouraged him to take a tax course in college, and soon after, he started his own online pet store. The business failed.
“It wasn’t successful, but TikTok helped further my ambition to learn more about running a business,” said To.
He also learned from TikTok that “money loses value every year”. (Or as we call it, inflation.) So he put much of his money in the stock market in March and since then, he says, his net worth has gone up. Om has now started its own TikTok channel to share his steps to success.
Steve Chen, 33, is a former public school teacher who runs a successful one TikTok account, @calltoleap, which provides financial advice to approximately 360,000 followers. He wanted to make finance and trading simple, but with a disclaimer: his followers should always do their own research, and those options vary depending on different financial goals.
Chen has lost traction on Instagram and YouTube, and he attributes much of his success on TikTok to the platform’s algorithm. His most viral videos, with over 1 million views, are the ones he said started an intense debate in the comment section of the video. When he explained in a video how he achieved financial freedom at the age of 33, it elicited a lot of comment. That involvement seems to have been picked up by TikTok’s algorithm, which listed the post on its “For You” page with “recommended videos” and can drive traffic.
Zippler has his own theory as to why his post on living off credit card debt turned out to be popular. “It went viral because TikTok has a very young audience and everyone is always looking for that quick money and easy way to live, let alone live for free,” he said. “Everyone likes a shortcut in life.”
– With the help of Emily Cadman and Marisa Gertz