When President Trump signed an executive order to force the sale of TikTok, many Americans wondered, perhaps not for the first time, what the fuss was about. The Chinese-owned app has become popular with teen-agers worldwide, but it’s not the most inviting place. After signing up, new users are firehosed with a channel of videos made by random people who are referencing unfamiliar trends. The videos themselves are embellished with strange hashtags (#xyzbca) and wild special effects. Anticipating this disorientation, the app directs you to successful and welcoming accounts. The person whom TikTok often appoints as your Virgil is the platform’s most popular creator. She is not an Instagram heiress, a world-class athlete, or a successful recording artist. Charli D’Amelio is a soft-spoken, Connecticut-bred high schooler who performs short dance routines, often in her bedroom. Since joining the app last spring, D’Amelio has amassed more than six billion likes and eighty-two million followers
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