Sunday, 04 Dec 2022

From dance videos to global sensation: what you need to know about TikToks rise

From dance videos to global sensation: what you need to know about TikToks rise


From dance videos to global sensation: what you need to know about TikToks rise

TikTok in 2022 became the most-downloaded app in the world, quietly surpassing long-standing forebears Instagram and Twitter. By the end of this year, it will overtake YouTube as the social media platform users spend the most time watching.

The video platform's meteoric rise has astounded investors and industry experts. As it grows at breakneck speed, a new Guardian US series investigates some of the mounting questions surrounding its operations: the opaqueness of its algorithm, its effect on our brains, its ties to China, and its role in spreading election misinformation.

"TikTok has become a source of culture, a reinforcement of culture, and a cauldron where culture is created," said Emily Dreyfuss, a researcher at Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. "It is time to take it seriously."

As we delve into the app that has reshaped the internet in just a few years, here's what you need to know about its rise.

TikTok as we know it was born from the marriage of two Chinese platforms - lip sync app Musical.ly and video platform Douyin.

Musical.ly was founded in 2014 in Shanghai, and became widely popular in just a few years. In 2017, the platform was acquired by Chinese internet technology company ByteDance for $800m, allowing ByteDance to tap into Musical.ly's 60 million users worldwide.

Armed with Musical.ly's US user base and its most popular features, ByteDance now boasted a broader international reach with its China-focused product, Douyin and global facing product, TikTok.

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