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This New Tool Lets You Analyse TikTok Hashtags

Bellingcat: “In just a few years, TikTok has become one of the world’s most successful social networks. The company claims that its platform is used by over a billion people every month. TikTok’s role during the invasion of Ukraine has changed the common misconception of a website predominantly used by its young users to post videos of lip-synced songs or dance challenges. During Russia’s military buildup, users posted videos of military equipment being transported to the Ukrainian border. Since that equipment crossed that border, numerous TikToks have shown missiles, destroyed buildings or the daily life of Ukrainians who have to spend their days in shelters, leading some commenters to even call this a “TikTok war”. But this isn’t the first time TikTok has played a role for open source investigators. Videos that appeared on TikTok in Myanmar in early 2021 showed men in uniform threatening to kill anti-coup protesters. During search efforts to find the disappeared US travel blogger Gabby Petito, TikTokers reportedly uploaded information that helped solve the case. Videos of mass protests, including Black Lives Matter marches in 2020, were also regularly shared on the platform. In our previous guide detailing “how to investigate TikTok like a pro”, we introduced and detailed various search options that can help find relevant information on the app. Nevertheless, it’s still tricky to monitor specific topics on TikTok over a longer period of time. Compared to those of other social media platforms, TikTok’s API (Application Programming Interface) presents more obstacles to developers. It can change frequently, making it harder for developers to use and harder for researchers to draw wider insights from trends as they develop over weeks and months. Bellingcat’s Investigative Tech Team has therefore created the Bellingcat TikTok Analysis Tool (built on the basis of a TikTok scraper offered by Github user drawrowfly) that allows researchers to collect a dataset of TikToks associated with specific hashtags over lengthier periods. The tool also allows researchers to analyse what other topics appear together with selected hashtags most frequently. When reviewing large datasets, it can be particularly interesting to discover which hashtags are regularly added to TikToks which already share one specific tag. Many TikToks contain multiple hashtags, as illustrated by the image below of a train transporting Russian military equipment from January 2022…”

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