TikTok is a mobile application of video sharing and social networking launched in September 2016. It is developed by the Chinese company ByteDance as the counterpart of the Douyin application for the non-Chinese market. Its logo evokes a musical note.
TikTok and ByteDance:
ByteDance, a digital technology company founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming and headquartered in Beijing, launched in September 2016. Douyin, a mobile application for sharing short videos for the Chinese market. In 2017, ByteDance launched TikTok, the version of Douyin for markets outside of China. The two applications are very similar but run on different servers and have different content, in order to meet the requirements of Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China and the Great Firewall. Thus, TikTok is not accessible in China, while Douyin is only present on Chinese app stores.
The app allows users to create short videos with music, ranging from 3 to 60 seconds. TikTok is becoming the leading service of its kind in Asia, and the app is considered the fastest growing of all countries. It is the clip sharing app that brings together the largest community. In June 2018, TikTok reached 150 million daily active users. During the first quarter of 2018, it was the leading mobile application by number of downloads (45.8 million according to estimates).
The November 9, 2017, ByteDance acquired competing Chinese video platform Musical.ly for nearly $ 12 billion. On Aug 2, 2018, the company is merged the two applications, while retaining the name TikTok. This merger, especially the name TikTok and the advertising campaigns on YouTube and Snapchat, are criticized by users.
In February 2019, TikTok is sentenced in the United States to a record fine of $ 5.7 million by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The platform is found guilty of illegally collecting and leaving public data from children under 13. This penalty pushes the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO) in the UK to investigate child protection on the platform.
During 2019, following its regulatory concerns and controversies over its links with the Chinese state, TikTok hired staff to lobby in the United States as well as in Europe, where the action is seen as proactive, as the company has not had significant problems. ByteDance is thus one of the few Chinese internet companies to lobby on the continent. For an expert lobbying of the European Union, it also represents a shift in China's lobbying strategy, through both private companies and the government, and greater use of Western methods.
By end of 2019, the application has more than one billion users - becoming the most downloaded in the world smartphone particularly among teenagers, and is the only social network as popular in the East and the 'West. In January 2020, the application reached eight hundred million active users per month, a figure which approached one billion at the end of April 2020. The periods of confinement observed during the Covid-19 pandemic, at the beginning of the year 2020 in almost every country in the world is seen as favouring this leap. TikTok would thus equal Instagram, which had reached one billion active users per month according to its latest figures from June 2018.
TikTok American CEO:
In May 2020 TikTok appointed American CEO Kevin Mayer, then director of the video on demand at Disney. Mayer is also taking on the role of Director of Operations for ByteDance. This recruitment is described as strategic, aimed at winning the confidence of the United States in a context where the application is criticized by the authorities who suspect it of being a threat to national security.
Ban in India:
In June 2020, the app was placed on a list of 59 Chinese apps banned in India, its largest market with 158 million users, shortly after a deadly clash between the armies of the two countries on their border. The decision is taken to ensure “the security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace”, the application being accused of “stealing and smuggling” the data of Indian Internet users on servers located outside the territory.
Following the ban on the application in India and facing the possibility of a ban in the United States, the management of TikTok and its parent company ByteDance are considering the creation of a head office outside of China for the company, and a dedicated board of directors which allows it more independence vis-à-vis ByteDance.
After the introduction of a national security law in Hong Kon , ByteDance withdraws access to TikTok for the territory, citing “recent events”, while leaving the Chinese version of the Douyin application accessible.
The app has offices around the world, including Los Angeles , New York , London , Paris , Berlin , Dubai , Bombay , Singapore , Jakarta , Seoul , and Tokyo. In order to consolidate its growth, it would use “aggressive” methods to attract staff from large Internet companies like Google and Facebook, including many high-ranking people, and would offer big salaries. In July 2020, its parent company ByteDance employed 60,000 people, and declared in March 2020 that it wanted to reach 100,000 employees by the end of the year. In the same period, the number of employees TikTok visible on the professional social network LinkedIn was over 4600.
On August 6, 2020, TikTok announced the opening of its first European data center, in Ireland, at a total cost of 420 million euros.
On August 27, the American Kevin Mayer, who took office as CEO of TikTok and COO of ByteDance in May 2020, announced his resignation, citing a change in the political context. This decision is described as a blow to TikTok.
Latest news about ban of TikTok in United States:
Following the US government's decision to ban the app in the US if it has not found a US buyer by September 15, Microsoft initiates talks with ByteDance to take over US, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian markets of platform. In September 2020, Microsoft's offer was refused by ByteDance, in favor of Oracle's offer, which was selected by taking a stake in Tiktok's American operations and by serving as technical intermediaries and management trusts user data. This agreement was rejected on September 18 by the US government, which banned downloading of the application in the United States. The government at the same time, blocks the WeChat application and announces the blocking of Tiktok in the United States by November 12, 2020. On September 20, the US government announced its approval of the agreement with Oracle as well as Walmart and the postponement of the ban on downloading Tiktok until September 27, 2020.
- TikTok: agreement in sight for the maintenance of the ap in the US
- TikTok: Operation, Users, Demography, celebrities, media and politics
- TikTok: Contents, Business Model, Vulnerabilities and investigations
- TikTok: Data Protection, Child safety, National Security and Contents
- TikTok: Controversies, censorship, propaganda, privacy, security issues
- History of TikTok mobile app and video sharing platform