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TikTok, also known as Douyin in China, is a short-form video hosting service owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. It features a wide range of short-form user videos with durations ranging from 15 seconds to ten minutes, including pranks, stunts, tricks, jokes, dance, and entertainment. TikTok is the international version of Douyin, which was first released in China in September 2016. 

TikTok was launched in most markets outside of mainland China in 2017 for iOS and Android; however, it became available globally only after merging with another Chinese social media service, Musical.ly, on August 2, 2018.

TikTok and Douyin have nearly identical user interfaces but have no access to each other's content. Their servers are all located in the market where the app is available. The two products are similar, but they do not have the same features. 

Douyin has an in-video search feature that searches people's faces for more videos of them, as well as other features like buying, booking hotels, and leaving geo-tagged reviews. TikTok and Douyin have grown rapidly in popularity since their initial launches in 2016. TikTok will have surpassed 2 billion mobile downloads globally by October 2020.

TikTok was named the third fastest-growing brand in 2020 by Morning Consult, trailing only Zoom and Peacock. TikTok surpassed Google as the most popular website in 2021, according to Cloudflare.

TikTok's History

TikTok's Evolution

ByteDance launched Douyin in September 2016 in Beijing, China, originally under the name A.me before rebranding to Douyin. ByteDance planned to expand beyond Douyin. Zhang Yiming, the founder of ByteDance, stated that "China accounts for only one-fifth of all Internet users worldwide." 

We will lose to peers vying for the four-fifths if we do not expand on a global scale. Going global is, therefore, a must. Douyin was created in 200 days and had 100 million users within a year, with over one billion videos viewed daily.

In September 2017, the app was released in the international market as TikTok. On 23 January 2018, the TikTok app ranked first among free app downloads in Thailand and other countries.

According to data from mobile research firm Sensor Tower, TikTok has been downloaded more than 130 million times in the United States and has reached 2 billion downloads globally (those numbers exclude Android users in China).

In the United States, celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon and Tony Hawk began using the app in 2018. Other celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Alba, Will Smith, and Justin Bieber, have joined TikTok, and many more have followed.

TikTok and the National Football League (NFL) of the United States announced a multi-year partnership on September 3, 2019. The agreement came just two days before the NFL's 100th season kickoff at Soldier Field, where TikTok hosted activities for fans to commemorate the occasion. 

The collaboration includes the creation of an official NFL TikTok account, which will provide new marketing opportunities such as sponsored videos and hashtag challenges. After less than four years of operation, TikTok, excluding Douyin, reported nearly 800 million monthly active users worldwide in July 2020.

TikTok named Shou Zi Chew as their new CEO in May 2021, succeeding interim CEO Vanessa Pappas, who stepped down on August 27, 2020, following the resignation of Kevin A. Mayer. On 3 August 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to ban TikTok in the United States on 15 September if talks to buy the company by Microsoft or another "very American" company fell through. 

On August 6, Trump signed two executive orders prohibiting the United States from conducting "transactions" with TikTok and WeChat's respective parent companies, ByteDance and Tencent. The orders are set to take effect 45 days after they are signed. The app's planned ban on September 20, 2020, was delayed by a week and then blocked by a federal judge.

In June 2021, President Biden issued a new executive order rescinding the ban. The app, along with 223 other Chinese apps, has been banned by the Indian government since June 2020 due to privacy concerns. Pakistan banned TikTok on 9 October 2020, citing "immoral" and "indecent" videos, but lifted the ban ten days later. Due to complaints about "indecent" content, a Pakistani court ordered a new TikTok ban in March 2021.

TikTok announced in September 2021 that it had reached 1 billion users.

Merger of Musical.ly

On November 9, 2017, TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, spent up to $1 billion to acquire musical.ly, a Shanghai-based startup with an overseas office in Santa Monica, California, USA. Musical.ly was an August 2014 social media video platform that allowed users to create short lip-sync and comedy videos. 

It was well-known, particularly among the younger audience. TikTok merged with musical.ly on August 2, 2018, to create a larger video community, with existing accounts and data consolidated into one app under the TikTok brand. This effectively ended Musical.ly and made TikTok a global app, excluding China, which already has Douyin.

Other market expansion TikTok

TikTok was available in over 150 markets and 75 languages as of 2018. According to Sensor Tower data, TikTok was downloaded more than 104 million times on Apple's App Store during the first half of 2018.

TikTok became the most downloaded app in the United States in October 2018 after merging with musical.ly in August, surpassing musical.ly's previous record. TikTok and Douyin reached one billion downloads globally in February 2019, excluding Android installs in China. 

TikTok was named the seventh-most-downloaded mobile app of the decade from 2010 to 2019. In 2018 and 2019, it was also the most downloaded app on Apple's App Store, surpassing Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. ByteDance and Oracle confirmed a deal in September 2020 in which the latter will serve as a partner to provide cloud hosting.

Walmart is planning to invest in TikTok. This agreement would come to a halt in 2021 when newly elected President Biden's Justice Department halted the previous U.S. ban imposed by President Trump. TikTok signed a licensing agreement with Sony Music in November 2020. Warner Music Group signed a licensing agreement with TikTok in December 2020. 

Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism will collaborate with TikTok to promote tourism in April 2021. It followed the January 2021 winter campaign, which was launched through a collaboration between the UAE Government Media Office and TikTok to promote the country's tourism.

Since 2014, the only apps with over 3 billion downloads have been WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger, all of which is owned by Facebook. TikTok is also the first non-Facebook app to have over 3 billion downloads. Although TikTok has been banned in India, its largest market, since June, app market research firm Sensor Tower reported in July that downloads in the rest of the world are increasing, with 3 billion downloads expected by 2020.

TikTok features

TikTok is a mobile app that allows users to create short videos with music in the background that can be sped up, slowed down, or edited with a filter. They can also layer their own music over the background music. Users can use the app to make a music video by selecting background music from a wide range of music genres, editing with a filter, and recording a 15-second video with speed adjustments before uploading it to TikTok or other social platforms. They can also record short lip-syncing videos to popular songs.

TikTok's "For You" page is a feed of videos that are recommended to users based on their app activity. TikTok's artificial intelligence (AI) generates content based on what users liked, interacted with, or searched for. In contrast, other social network algorithms base such content on the user's relationships with other users as well as what they liked or interacted with. 

Users can also add videos to their favorites or select "not interested" on their page. TikTok combines the user's favorite content to recommend videos to them. According to TikTok policy, users and their content can only be featured on the "for you" page if they are 16 or older.

The "react" feature of the app allows users to record their reaction to a specific video, which is then displayed in a small window that can be moved around the screen. Its "duet" feature allows users to record a video alongside another video. Musical.ly was also known for its "duet" feature. The duet feature can also be used only if both parties adjust their privacy settings.

Direct messaging allows users to send videos, emojis, and messages to their friends. TikTok has also added a feature that allows users to create videos based on their comments. Influencers frequently make use of the "live" feature. This feature is only available to those with at least 1,000 followers and who are over the age of 16. If the user is over the age of 18, his or her followers can send virtual "gifts" that can later be exchanged for money.

The "Virtual Items" feature of the "Small Gestures" feature is one of the newest features as of 2020. This is based on the widespread practice of social gifting in China. Since the addition of this feature, many beauty companies and brands have created TikTok accounts to participate in and advertise this feature. 

Social gifting has grown in popularity as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown in the United States. According to a TikTok representative, the campaign was launched in response to the lockdown in order to "create a sense of support and encouragement with the TikTok community during these difficult times."

TikTok announced in February 2020 a "family safety mode" for parents to control their children's digital well-being. There is a screen time management option, a restricted mode, and the ability to place

TikTok began beta-testing Live Studio, a streaming software that would allow users to broadcast applications open on their computers, including games, in December 2021. The software was also released with mobile and PC streaming support. However, users on Twitter discovered a few days later that the software allegedly uses code from the open-source OBS Studio. According to OBS, if TikTok wants to use any code from OBS, it must make the code of Live Studio publicly available under the GNU GPL version 2.

TikTok Pulse, an ad revenue-sharing program, was announced in May 2022. It covers the "top 4% of all TikTok videos" and is only available to creators with over 100,000 followers.

TikTok content and usage

TikTok tends to appeal to younger users, with 41 percent of its users aged 16 to 24. Ninety percent of TikTok users say they use the app on a daily basis. According to TikTok's geographical usage, 43 percent of new users are from India. There were over 100 million monthly active users in the United States and 23 million in the United Kingdom as of the first quarter of 2022. The average user spent 1 hour and 25 minutes per day on the app and opened TikTok 17 times.

Trends in viral infection TikTok

TikTok has seen the rise of a number of trends, including memes, lip-synced songs, and comedy videos. Many of these trends have been sparked by Duets, a feature that allows users to add their own video to an existing video while keeping the original content's audio.

TikTok's explore page or the page with the search logo displays trends. The page lists the app's trending hashtags and challenges. #posechallenge, #filterswitch, #dontjudgemechallenge, #homedecor, #hitormiss, #bottlecapchallenge, and others are among them. The company launched the hashtag #EduTok in June 2019, which received 37 billion views. Following this development, the company established collaborations with tech startups to create educational content for the platform.

The app has spawned numerous viral trends, Internet celebrities, and music trends all over the world. Many celebrities got their start on musical.ly, which merged with TikTok on August 2, 2018. Loren Gray, Baby Ariel, Kristen Hancher, Zach King, Lisa and Lena, Jacob Sartorius, and many others are among these users. 

Loren Gray was the most followed person on TikTok until Charli D'Amelio surpassed her on March 25, 2020. Gray's TikTok account was the first to surpass 40 million followers on the platform. She was surpassed by 41.3 million followers. D'Amelio was the first person to reach 50, 60, and 70 million followers. Until now, Charli D'Amelio has the most followers on the platform. Other creators rose to prominence following the platform's merger with musical.ly on August 2, 2018.

The "hit or miss" meme, which began with a snippet of I Love Friday's song "Mia Khalifa," is one notable TikTok trend. The song has been featured in over four million TikTok videos, helping to introduce the app to a wider Western audience. TikTok also played a significant role in making Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" one of the biggest songs of 2019 and the longest-running number-one song in Billboard Hot 100 history.

TikTok has helped many other bands gain a larger audience, which often includes foreign fans. Fitz and the Tantrums, for example, developed a large following in South Korea following the widespread popularity of their song "HandClap" on the platform despite never having toured in Asia. 

Due to the popularity of the #anysongchallenge, in which users dance to the choreography of "Any Song," R&B and rap artist Zico's song "Any Song" reached number one on the Korean music charts. The platform has been chastised for failing to pay royalties to artists whose music is used on their platform. More than 176 different songs surpassed 1 billion video views on TikTok in 2020.

TikTok users and K-pop fans "claimed to have registered potentially hundreds of thousands of tickets" for President Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa in June 2020 via TikTok communication, contributing to "rows of empty seats" at the event.

While TikTok has primarily been used for entertainment purposes, it may soon be used as a job resource, with prospective employees sending in videos rather than traditional resumes. The form is most likely a job search supplement. TikTok has had positive results in the past with people using the site to find jobs, and this need may be expanding, particularly among younger generations.

Influencer marketing tiktok

TikTok has provided a platform for users to create content for money as well as for fun. As the platform has grown in popularity in recent years, it has enabled businesses to advertise and quickly reach their target demographic through influencer marketing. The platform's AI algorithm also contributes to the platform's influencer marketing potential by selecting content based on the user's preferences. 

Sponsored content is not as common on the platform as it is on other social media apps, but brands and influencers can still make as much, if not more, than on other platforms. Meme machines are platform influencers who earn money through engagement, such as likes and comments.

The New York Times reported in 2021 that viral TikTok videos by young people relating the emotional impact of books on them, tagged with the label "BookTok," significantly drove literature sales. Publishers were increasingly using the platform for influencer marketing.

Businesses make use of TikTok

TikTok was added to the eCommerce platform Shopify's portfolio of social media platforms in October 2020, allowing online merchants to sell their products directly to consumers on TikTok.

Some small businesses have used TikTok to advertise and reach a larger audience than they would normally serve. The viral success of many small business TikTok videos has been attributed to TikTok's algorithm, which displays content that viewers are drawn to but are unlikely to actively seek out (such as videos on unconventional types of businesses, like beekeeping and logging).

In 2020, digital media companies like Group Nine Media and Global used TikTok more frequently, focusing on tactics like brokering partnerships with TikTok influencers and developing branded content campaigns. Chipotle's partnership with David Dobrik in May 2019 and Dunkin' Donuts' partnership with Charli D'Amelio in September 2020 are two notable collaborations between larger brands and top TikTok influencers.

TikTok data transfer class-action lawsuit

A class-action lawsuit was filed in California in November 2019 alleging that TikTok transferred personally identifiable information of US citizens to servers owned by Tencent and Alibaba in China. The lawsuit also accused TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, of stealing user content without permission. 

Misty Hong, a college student who filed the lawsuit, claimed she downloaded the app but never created an account. A few months later, she discovered that TikTok had created an account for her using her information (such as biometrics) and had made a summary of her information. The lawsuit also claimed that data was sent to the Chinese tech giant Baidu.

Twenty TikTok lawsuits were consolidated into a single class-action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in July 2020. TikTok agreed to pay $92 million to settle the class-action lawsuit in February 2021.

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