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We have to stan: TikTok’s fan culture and the creators at the heart of it

TikTok has long encouraged interactions betweens its viral content creators and the people who follow them - incorporating everything from the Duet feature to private messaging on the platform. This has given way to fandom culture that influencers have been able to monetise. But when do fans become ‘stans’? And what do the subjects at the heart of its speculation think of TikTok’s fan culture?

Last September, near a shopping centre in Brent Cross, London, screaming kids, irate mothers and bewildered pedestrians all collided for a sunny afternoon of moderate chaos. The UK’s first TikTok Hype House, ByteSquad, had decided to stage an impromptu meet and greet near a local Apple store. Within seconds of stepping inside, however, a change of plan was required.

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