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TikTok’s Daddy is Saving the App from Congress on The Viral List

We round up the most viral moments of the week…


  • TikTok users are defending the app’s CEO during his viral testimony against a Congress they see as out of touch
  • Gwenyth Paltrow’s “wellness routine” has Gen Z on TikTok standing up to toxic diet culture
  • Taco Bell is appealing to nostalgia marketing by bringing back their wildly loved Volcano Menu from the ‘90s

This week on TikTok: Dedicated users are defending the platform’s CEO in U.S. trials 

This week, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is appearing before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to testify regarding the Gen Z-loved app’s potential nationwide ban. But while yesterday proved to be a cringeworthy whirlwind on the floor, the internet isn’t expressing the same feelings as Congress. While Wall Street slammed Chew’s testimony, “dubbing it a ‘disaster moment’ for TikTok,” Gen Z and Millennials are proving they have Chew’s back.  

Clips of the hearing are flooding Twitter and TikTok itself showing how members of Congress berated Chew with “yes” or “no” questions and cut him off when he began to answer. TikTok just announced they have 150M active monthly users in the U.S. (which is half the population) and those users are certainly showing their support for both Chew and the app. Users are stitching clips of the testimony and mocking Congress for not even knowing the app well enough to litigate it. Livestreams of yesterday’s events were flooded with comments calling U.S. politicians “embarrassing” and “out of touch.” One user even captioned a video of Georgia’s representative, “I get second hand embarrassment watching these corpses try to make points” after he brought up accusations about eye dilation and tracking users’ ages.  

Another wildly viral clip shows North Carolina’s representative asking if TikTok can “access the home Wi-Fi network” and social media users are commenting with their own mocking questions like, “does TikTok use my camera to record a video?” and “does TikTok access my battery to steal my electricity?” Gen Z in particular are loving Chew so much that they’ve begun making thirst edits of him, and one comment with over 12K likes reads, “More edits of this man! Let’s give him the Pedro Pascal treatment(citing the internet’s other celeb crush of the moment).  

Also on TikTok: Pedro Pascal is the face of yet another meme, and Gen Z has brought back Noot Noots 

Gen Z is anti-diet culture, so they’re calling out Goop queen Gwyneth Paltrow 

YPulse’s What is Wellness? trend report showed that Gen Z thinks current wellness culture is toxic—and that includes the wellness empire that is Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop. Paltrow herself is revered by her followers as a queen of wellness, someone their routines and practices should mimic, even if they’re really thinly veiled (or hardly at all) restrictive eating and pseudo-science diet culture. But Gen Z is not content to dismiss these messages, they’re prepared to call them out for the harm they can perpetuate. On a recent TikTok of Paltrow sharing her daily “wellness routine” on a podcast, which has 3.3M views and 21K comments, commentors and stitched videos identified her practices as a diet or even habits of an eating disorder.  

After hearing her explain her pattern of intermittent fasting, with meals like coffee in the morning, bone broth for lunch, and paleo diet vegetables for dinner, topped off with half an hour in the sauna, one commentor responded “Wellness also known as Ed [eating disorder].” Others called her the “Almond mom final boss” and said “Wellness is the new ‘how do u stay thin’,” bringing attention to the fact that the routine she touts doesn’t actually sound healthy at all, but rather like “90s children’s trauma.” But all these collective comments brought some a sense of hope for Gen Z crushing the connection between diet culture and the label of “wellness,” with one comment reading “These comments make me smile. We are so over the almond mom culture being normal. I love it.” 

Millennial foodies are pumped for the return of Taco Bell’s iconic “Volcano” menu items from the ‘90s  

YPulse data shows that Taco Bell is among Gen Z and Millennials’ top three favorite fast food / chain restaurants. Taco Bell is no stranger to reaching young consumers, and they haven’t been afraid when it comes to trying out new trends. The chain tapped Lil Nas X to be their “Chief Impact Officer,” they’re one of the first brands to experiment with NFTs and anime, and have been a master at releasing attention-grabbing, viral products—including a Crunchwrap Supreme-scented wrapping paper during the holidays. Now, they’re tapping into the nostalgia marketing trend by bringing back their Volcano Menu.  

First released in 1995, Taco Bell’s Volcano Menu has made sporadic reappearances over the years, and Millennials loved it so much they developed a cult-like following for the spicy items and even created a petition to bring it back in full swing. The chain finally took to Twitter this month to announce the special menu’s comeback—using the snarky humor young consumers love to see from brands on the platform of course. Since the announcement, “volcano burrito” is now a trending search term on the Taco Bell fandom wiki page. Specific items like the “Volcano Burrito, Volcano Taco, and the hot-and-creamy Lava Sauce” will be available beginning Thursday, June 29, but Taco Bell rewards members will be able to get early access to them.  

Links we’re passing:  

Sports: Chicago Blackhawks players have opted not to wear warmup pride jerseys citing concerns over Russian laws 

Movies: Millennial men are obsessing over Master and Commander at its 20-year anniversary 

Fashion: A quirky designer bag with a realistic chocolate chip cookie on it is making red-carpet rounds 

Music: The infamous Eras Tour has kicked off, and it’s obviously gone viral 

TV: Disney+’s new American Born Chinese series is exactly what fans have been waiting for 

Swarm is causing lots of buzz, but especially for this NSFW scene  

BookTok: This author did not take a review lightly, and now BookTok is swearing her off