The Rise (and Potential Fall) of TikTok

The Rise (and Potential Fall) of TikTok

Grace Goode, Staff Writer

Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat–these veteran social media platforms have recently encountered a new competitor: TikTok. Launched in China in 2016, and then internationally in 2017, TikTok initially gained popularity with the American audience in 2017 after merging with the similar video-sharing platform 

In just three short years, the TikTok app has been downloaded over 2 billion times on the Apple App Store and Google Play store. In Apple’s first quarter of 2019, TikTok was the most downloaded app on the App Store. According to a 2020 data report, TikTok has over 800 million active users in 155 different countries. 

So what is the explanation for TikTok’s rise to fame? Many credit TikTok’s “For You Page” and algorithm for showing viewers exactly what they want to see. The For You Page (or FYP) is what users first see when opening the app. It is an endless stream of videos from other users specifically for that user. According to a blog post by the company, the For You Page is based on an algorithm that considers the hashtags used, the songs featured in the video, and even the device the user is on. 

For an app with such a promising future, TikTok’s days on the US market may be numbered. Despite its popularity, it has recently come under fire from President Trump. Trump has repeatedly threatened to ban the app for users within the United States over claims that TikTok was providing user data to the Chinese government. These allegations stemmed from the fact that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, which is based in China. 

TikTok has adamantly denied these claims, calling them “unfounded” and saying it has “never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would [they] do so if asked.” TikTok has also pointed to their recently hired CEO, Vanessa Pappas, who is from Australia, as evidence of their separation from the Chinese government. 

As TikTok has risen through the ranks of social media platforms, it has become the subject of a heated debate over whether it is a harmless outlet for teenagers or a national security threat. But despite all of this, one thing is clear: TikTok’s alliterative name serves as both a catchy title for the app and an ironic warning of its uncertain future in the US.