According to a global analysis compiled by Nikkei, TikTok has officialy overtaken Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and every other messaging platform to become the most downloaded social media app in the world.
Until 2021, Facebook had held that title—unsurprisingly, as it has somehow managed to keep growing over the years up to a current accumulated net worth of over one thousand billion. TikTok has proven to be something of a dark horse behind the scenes, however, growing around the world at an unprecedented rate until it's taken over social media—and most of Gen Z's free time.
TikTok has started a whole new trend of video style, which has been picked up by several fellow social media apps over the past year.
While YouTube has also been changing the video scene over time, with the most popular videos currently stretching around ten minutes—miles shorter than traditional TV or video entertainment—TikTok has been paving the way for something completely new: very quick, snappy videos averaging between nine to fifteen seconds (although TikTok did increase the maximum length to three minutes in July).
In the beginning, most TikToks were quick, funny clips aimed at making you smile or laugh, something akin to Vine when it peaked in 2014 before it passed into oblivion. TikTok isn't showing signs of dying anytime soon, though, and its style has expanded to include educational clips, life hacks, mini cooking tutorials, and much more.
The possibilities have become endless, and thousands of business have taken advantage of the new platform to advertise their products or services, as well as provide entertainment on it.
TikTok has even been inspiring other platforms to mimic its style, after seeing its popularity boom—such as Instagram Reels
, or YouTube Shorts
. Both of these have been pushed as additional short-video platforms alongside the main platform, which provide a refreshing alternative to the regular content most established influencers or YouTubers are used to posting and consuming.
Instagram Reels is different from Instagram Stories, shown in their very own niche corner in the app, and YouTube Shorts can be found on the Shorts Shelf right near the top of the home page.
For a while last year, we didn't really think TikTok was going to make it in the US, after Trump had threatened to eradicate the app from the United States due to a claimed national security risk. Things didn't quite work out the way Trump had hoped, though, and although new app downloads were banned for a while, Biden signed an executive order this year revoking all bans on both Tiktok and WeChat (another Chinese messaging app targeted by Trump).
According to NikkeiAsia's report
, the pandemic served to provide a massive boost to TikTok's popularity, as not only were most people stuck at home with limited means of entertainment, but also because many famous artists were forced to cancel shows and tours, and decided to take to this platform (and others) instead.
I enjoy videos by artists who aren't performing live anymore because of the pandemic. —Nina, 37, from Portland
Interestingly, TikTok has never touted any particular safety features, and many still harbor concerns that their data may be compromised. However, that doesn't seem to have impacted the app's fame in the least, in spite of other apps like WhatsApp working hard
to stay above competing platforms in terms of maximal data encryption and privacy. Apparently, if an app is entertaining enough, privacy concerns take a back seat for many users.