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Tiktok logo.svg
A screenshot of the TikTok app, as it was merged with on 2 August 2018.
A screenshot of the TikTok app, as it was merged with on 2 August 2018.
Initial releaseSeptember 2016; 2 years ago (2016-09)
Stable release
10.8.0 / 10 April 2019
Operating systemiOS, Android
Size287.6 MB (iOS)[1] 72 MB (Android)[2]
Available in38 languages[3]
List of languages
Arabic, Bengali, Burmese, Cebuano, English, French, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Javanese, Kannada, Korean, Malay, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese
TypeVideo sharing
LicenseFreeware (English) (Chinese)

TikTok, also known as Douyin (Chinese: 抖音; pinyin: Dǒuyīn; literally: 'vibrating sound') in China, is an iOS and Android media app for creating and sharing short videos. The application allows users to create short music videos of 3–15 seconds[4][5] and short looping videos of 3–60 seconds. It is a leading short video platform in Asia, United States, and other parts of the world.

Owned by ByteDance, the app was launched as Douyin in China in September 2016[6][7] and introduced to the overseas market as TikTok one year later.[8] In 2018, the application gained popularity and became the most downloaded app in the U.S. in October 2018.[9][10] As of 2018, it is available in over 150 markets, and in 75 languages. In July 2018, the app had more than 500 million users globally.[11]



Douyin was launched by ByteDance in China in September 2016.[12] Douyin was developed in 200 days, and within a year got 100 million users, with more than 1 billion videos viewed every day.[13][14] While keeping the app title as Douyin in China, Douyin was branded as TikTok for the international market when it started to expand into other countries in September 2017.[15] On 23 January 2018, the TikTok app ranked #1 among free mobile app downloads on app stores in Thailand and other countries.[16]

TikTok has been downloaded about 80 million times in the United States, and 800 million times worldwide, according to data from mobile research firm Sensor Tower that excludes Android users in China.[17] Celebrities including Jimmy Fallon and Tony Hawk have joined the app in November 2018.[18][19]

Merging with

On 9 November 2017, TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, spent up to $1 billion to purchase, a startup based in Shanghai with an office in Santa Monica, California, owning a popular social media platform targeting the US teenage market.[20][21] Looking forward to leveraging the US digital platform’s young user base, TikTok merged with on 2 August 2018 to create a larger video community, with existing accounts and data consolidated into one app, keeping the title TikTok.[21][22]

Expansion in other markets

As of 2018, TikTok is now available in over 150 markets, and in 75 languages.[23][24] TikTok was downloaded more than 104 million times on Apple's App store during the full first half of 2018, according to data provided to CNBC by Sensor Tower, an app analytics platform based in San Francisco. It surpassed Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to become the world's most downloaded iOS app for that time period.[25][26]


As a separate app from TikTok, Douyin is available from the developer's website and has maintained the same app title since its launch in September 2016.[27] Part of its popularity is attributable to its marketing campaigns, launching several activities with Chinese celebrities to engage their fans' interest. For example, its marketing campaign in 2018 Spring Festival Gala alone brought an increase of 70 million daily active users.[28] In February 2018, Douyin launched a partnership with Modern Sky to monetize music.[29]


The TikTok mobile app allows users to create a short video of themselves which often feature music in the background, can be sped up, slowed down or edited with a filter.[30] To create a music video with the app, users can choose background music from a wide variety of music genres, edit with a filter and record a 15-second video with speed adjustments before uploading it to share with others on TikTok or other social platforms.[citation needed]

The app's "react" feature allows users to film their reaction to a specific video, over which it is placed in a small window that is movable around the screen.[31] Its "duet" feature allows users to film a video aside another video.[citation needed]

The app allows users to set their accounts as "private". Such accounts' content remains visible to TikTok, but is blocked from TikTok users who the account holder has not authorised to view their content.[citation needed] Users can choose whether any other user, or only their "friends", may interact with them through the app via comments, messages, or "react" or "duet" videos.[citation needed]

Artificial intelligence

TikTok employs artificial intelligence to analyse user’s interests and preferences through their interactions with the content, and display a personalized content feed to each user.[32][33]


In June 2018, TikTok reached 500 million monthly active users worldwide and 150 million daily active users in China. It became the world's most downloaded app on Apple's App Store in the first half of 2018 with an estimated 104 million downloads, surpassing the downloads recorded by PUBG Mobile, YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram in the same period.[25]

The app has spawned numerous viral trends and internet celebrities around the world, propelled songs to fame, and is known to be popular among celebrities due to its popularity and social influence.[34][35][36][37][38][39]

Privacy, cyberbullying and addiction concerns

Because it allows users to communicate by video with people about whom they know nothing, TikTok has been compared to Chatroulette.[40] Journalists in several countries have raised privacy concerns about the app, not least because it is popular with children and may expose them to sexual predators.[40][41][42][43]

Several users have reported endemic cyberbullying on TikTok,[44][45] including racist and anti-Semitic abuse.[46]

Because TikTok can become addictive, users may find it hard to stop using the app.[47] In April 2018, an addiction-reduction feature was added to Douyin.[47] This encourages users to take a break every 90 minutes.[47] Later in 2018, the feature was rolled out to the TikTok app.

National security concerns

In January 2019, an investigation by the American think tank Peterson Institute for International Economics described TikTok as a "Huawei-sized problem" that poses a national security threat to the West,[48][49][50] noting the app's popularity with Western users including armed forces personnel, and its ability to convey location, image and biometric data to its Chinese parent company, which is legally unable to refuse to share data to the Chinese government.[49][50] Peterson also expressed concerns that TikTok could be used for the "manipulation of public opinion."[49][50]


Videos and hashtags related to Peppa Pig are censored on Douyin, because the Chinese government regards them as symbols of subversion.[51][52]

On 3 July 2018, TikTok was banned in Indonesia, after the Indonesian government accused it of promulgating "pornography, inappropriate content and blasphemy."[53][54][55][56][57] Shortly afterwards, TikTok pledged to task 20 staff with censoring TikTok content in Indonesia,[54] and the ban was lifted on 11 July 2018.[53]

In November 2018, the Bangladeshi government blocked the TikTok app's internet access.[58]

Also in 2018, TikTok was reprimanded by Chinese media watchdogs for showing "unacceptable" content, such as videos depicting adolescent pregnancies.[57]

In January 2019, the Chinese government said that it would start to hold app developers like ByteDance responsible for user content shared via apps such as TikTok,[59] and listed 100 types of content that the Chinese government would censor.[60][61]

In February 2019, several Indian politicians called for TikTok to be banned or more tightly regulated, after concerns emerged about sexually explicit content, cyberbullying, and deepfakes.[62]


There are a variety of trends within TikTok, including memes, lip-synced songs, and comedies. Duets, a feature that allows users to add their own video to an existing video with the original content's audio, have led to most of these trends.

Trends are showed on the explore page on TikTok, or the page with the search logo. The page enlists the trending hashtags and challenges among the app. Some include #posechallenge, #filterswitch, #makeeverysecondcount, #wannalisten, #pillowchallenge, #furrywar, #hitormiss, and more.

Most followed accounts on TikTok

This list contains the top 10 accounts that had the most followers on TikTok, which has previously merged with

Top TikTok users (last updated 25 April 2019)
Rank User ID Followers
1 Lisa and Lena[63] @lisaandlena 32.7  GER
2 Loren Gray[64] @lorengray 30.5  USA
3 Baby Ariel[65] @babyariel 29.3  USA
4 Kristen Hancher[66] @kristenhancher 22.0  CAN
5 Jacob Sartorius[67] @jacobsartorius 20.4  USA
6 Flighthouse[68] @flighthouse 18.0  USA
7 GIL CROES[69] @glimhercroes 17.9  USA
8 Jojo Siwa[70] @itsjojosiwa 17.4  USA
9 Faisal Shaikh[71] @mr_faisu_07 16.6  IND
10 Jannat Zubair Rahmani[72] @jannat_zubair29 15.9  IND

Most followed accounts on Douyin

This list contains the top 10 accounts that had the most followers on Douyin, which is the Chinese version of TikTok and mostly used in China.[73]

Top Douyin users (last updated 15 October 2018)
Rank User ID Followers
Country or region
1 Chen He (陈赫) @191433445 50.7  CHN
2 Dilraba Dilmurat (迪丽热巴) @274110380 46.7  CHN
3 Liu Erdou (会说话的刘二豆) @erdou 43.9  CHN
4 Yi Chan (一禅小和尚) @yichan6666 42.1  CHN
5 Angelababy (杨颖) @228.228 37.8  HKG
6 He Jiong (何炅) @he.jiong 31.8  CHN
7 Feng Timo (冯提莫) @Fengtimo1219 28.7  CHN
8 Hei Lian V (黑脸V) @145651081 26.0  CHN
9 Guan Xiaotong (关晓彤) @guanxiaotong 25.6  CHN
10 Yang Yang (杨洋) @YANGYANG.99 20.4  CHN

Legal issues

Indonesian block

Indonesia temporarily blocked the TikTok app on 3 July 2018 amid public concern about illegal contents such as pornography and blasphemy. The app was unblocked one week later after making various changes, including removing negative content, opening a government liaison office, and implementing age restrictions and security mechanisms.[74]

Tencent lawsuits

Tencent's WeChat platform has been accused of blocking Douyin’s videos.[75][76] In April 2018, Douyin sued Tencent and accused it of spreading false and damaging information on its WeChat platform, demanding RMB 1 million in compensation and an apology. In June 2018, Tencent filed a lawsuit against Toutiao and Douyin in a Beijing court, alleging they had repeatedly defamed Tencent with negative news and damaged its reputation, seeking a nominal sum of RMB 1 in compensation and a public apology.[77] In response, Toutiao filed a complaint the following day against Tencent for allegedly unfair competition and asking for RMB 90 million in economic losses.[78]

US COPPA fines

On 27 February 2019, the FTC fined ByteDance US$5.7 million for collecting information from minors under the age of 13 in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act in the United States.[79] ByteDance responded by adding a kids-only mode to TikTok which blocks the upload of videos, the building of user profiles, direct messaging, and commenting on other's videos, while still allowing the viewing and recording of content.[80]

Ban in India

On 3 April 2019, the Madras High Court while hearing a PIL had asked the Government of India to ban the app, citing that it "encourages pornography". The court also noted that children using the app were at risk of being targeted by sexual predators. The court further asked broadcast media not to telecast any of those videos from the app. The spokesperson for TikTok stated that they were abiding by local laws and were awaiting the copy of the court order before they take action.[81] On 17 April, both Google and Apple removed TikTok from Google Play and the App Store.[82] As the court refused to reconsider the ban, the company stated that they were confident about the existing users being able to use the platform even as downloads were blocked. They also claimed that they had removed over 6 million videos that violated their content policy and guidelines.[83] The matter is scheduled for hearning on 22 April.[84][85]

Ban lifted in India

On 25 April 2019 TikTok app is no longer banned in India, after a court in Tamil Nadu reversed its order of prohibiting downloads of the app on App Store and Google Play. Initially, it stated the platform was encouraging the spread of explicit content and “cultural degradation” after concerns of pornographic purposes and exploiting children. Following a plea from the TikTok developers Bytedance Technology, the ban was lifted and the app can once again be downloaded.[86]


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Further reading

External links