Is China’s TikTok App Taking Over Social Media?

Kenyans went on a craze of sharing short videos in January via TikTok. It seemed the fun and easy way of surviving the long month of “Njaanuary” as it has been coined.

It turns out that the whole world is now busy sharing videos via the TikTok app. The app allows users to create and share short videos with a limit of 15 seconds.

If you are on social media, you definitely have viewed multiple videos created using the new app. In a world that loves video content, the Chinese app seems to be overtaking other social media platforms.


TikTok promises to “make your day” with real videos from real people. Sometimes a spontaneous moment is best shared in a video.

The app provides users with tools to create original short-form videos. The simple tools enable users to share bits of their day with the world.

The tools include music, special effects, and filters to create high-quality yet interesting videos.

Music in different genres is available on the platform including rock, pop, hip hop, and country among others.

Users can pause and resume recording a video several times. The feature allows you to capture only the moments you want to share on video.

Other interesting features include the ability to cut, duplicate, and combine different videos. You do not need to leave the app to use these tools.

TikTok app has become very popular among the young people, especially teenagers. Its feed has endless videos that are personalised based on the user’s interests.

The videos are in different categories including pets, gaming, comedy, memes, food, sports, and DIYs among others.

ByteDance owns the TikTok app, which was officially released into the market in 2017. The app is available on both IOS and Android platforms.

Popularity and downloads

We must admit, the app can keep you entertained all day. Even if you do not create any videos, a peep into your feed will do as the app promises, “make your day.”

In 2018, TikTok broke the record of social media platforms in the US. It was the most downloaded app in October 2018.

The video platform was the first Chinese app to achieve such a milestone and in just a year of existence in the market.

By the end of 2018, the app had already reached over 150 markets and translated into 75 languages.

Before releasing TikTok, ByteDance had introduced a similar app Douyin, which was equally successful in China. By February 2019, both apps had over one billion downloads.

Tiktok emerged at position 7 among the most downloaded apps in 10 years between 2010 and 2019. The popularity has continued in this new decade.

Overtaking Facebook and WhatsApp

Facebook and WhatsApp are perhaps the most popular social media platforms you can think of today. Both allow users to share fun stories and videos while making business connections.

The TikTok app seemed to challenge these apps. In 2019, the app overtook Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook in terms of downloads.

Data from Sensor Tower now indicate that TikTok has overthrown WhatsApp, which is also owned by Facebook alongside Instagram.

Facebook seemed to have captured the social media market by owning the three platforms. However, Chinese app developers seem determined to challenge this position.

Recent data shows that both Douyin and TikTok have been downloaded about 104 million times in January 2020. The data include both the Apple app store and Google Play Store.

In addition, the data shows a remarkable 46% increase in downloads compared to the same month in 2019. It also indicates a 27% increase from the downloads recorded in December 2019.

The data only accounted for three major markets, which include the US, Brazil and India. Hence, the actual downloads are much higher when other markets including China’s third-party Android downloads are included.

The total downloads are almost hitting the 2 billion mark. If the trend is another to go by, the app will hit and exceed this mark in 2020.

Security Concerns and Bans

Despite the rising popularity, TikTok raised some security fears. Several countries have banned the app from their markets for different reasons.

In Indonesia, the app was banned for several weeks in July 2018 because of its content. The owners move to edit the content that Indonesian users shared to meet the government requirements.

In China, the government listed 100 categories of content that are subject to censorship for TikTok and similar apps. The grounds for bans in China seem political.

It is interesting to note the tough restrictions in the app’s country of origin.

In the US, the Transportation Security Administration and Army banned the TikTok app in 2019 over security concerns.

The arms of government cited that the Chinese could be using the app to gather data from American users. Apps have become the easiest way for governments and criminals alike to collect private data from unsuspecting users.

The app has also raised cyber-security concerns, especially for teenagers who seem too much in love with the app.

The US government is keen to ban all GPS apps because of the risks involved. Some analysts predicts further censorship for TikTok in the US market given the strained relationship between the US and China.

In India, the app was briefly banned with the government citing concerns that the app was encouraging pornography.

The bans, however, do not seem to deter social media users from taking and sharing videos. The app’s downloads keep increasing every month in the top market including the US.

Concluding Remarks

ByteDance has proved that it is possible to overtake even the most popular and powerful networks in the world. Facebook and WhatsApp have been in the market for a long time. However, in less than four years, TikTok has overtaken the two in terms of downloads.

The owners identified a gap in social media and created a solution for it. Anyone can run a video for 15 seconds and have some fun. What gaps do you see in the world of apps or in your niche? With the right app developers in Kenya, you can fill them and achieve record-breaking results.

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