TikToks Takeover Is Going Great


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Photo: Drew Angerer / Staff (Getty Images)

TikTok is joining the ol’ 1 billion user club, with the ByteDance-owned video platform reporting on Monday that it now officially has as many active monthly users.

That number in itself is, quite frankly, astounding, especially given the fact that TikTok has only been around for the last three years. Instagram, by comparison, launched in 2010 and is also reported to have around 1 billion active monthly users, while Facebook, which launched in 2004, boasts around 2.89 billion. TikTok, meanwhile, launched in 2018 as a reincarnation of Musical.ly, a different short-form, music-focused video app that had been acquired by the Chinese multinational ByteDance in 2017. Though it only ever amassed 40 million active monthly users, Musical.ly made a critical impact on both the livestreaming video ecosystem and the cultural stage, changing the way teens interacted with each other and lending undeniable influence to the meme-ification of music.

After ByteDance converted Musical.ly’s user base over to TikTok, that popularity continued to soar, driven in part by an unrelenting global pandemic that left everybody shut inside their homes and eager for more of the quick dopamine hits the platform specializes in. In 2020, TikTok became the most-downloaded app in the world, claiming 315 million downloads in the year’s first quarter alone.

TikTok’s success is also particularly impressive given that at the same time it was taking off, the presidential administration of one Donald J. Trump was doing everything in its power to grind it into dust. In August 2020, the former president threatened to ban the app over overblown fears about its connections to the Chinese government unless ByteDance forked over majority control of TikTok to American entities—an order that President Joe Biden later revoked.

In a video posted Monday, TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas said that “over a billion people from around the world come to TikTok to be entertained, inspired or discover something new, like sports, music, arts and culture, fashion, DIY and more.”

A hearty round of applause for TikTok, the platform that birthed the D’Amelio sisters, a Ratatouille-inspired musical, and a bunch of fun new ways for teens to get punished. Hopefully the world is a little bit less of a dumpster fire at the 2-billion active monthly user mark.