With record growth thanks to lockdown, TikTok is now scaring away the meters, but the rise of the Chinese platform is still causing a lot of concern in the United States and Europe.
- The coronavirus health crisis and lockdown measures have boosted the popularity of the social network, which until now was essentially a playground for young people.
- In just a few months, we've gone from a "light" video platform to a real social network that matters
- The success of the application is now a concern at the highest level. An investigation has been opened in the United States for "threat to national security" and the European Data Protection Committee announced that it would look into social networking practices.
We film each other, we look at each other, we like... Even if you are not a teenager, you have certainly already heard of TikTok, or even watched one of those short videos broadcast on this mobile application which belongs to the Chinese giant ByteDance. The coronavirus health crisis, and the lockdown measures have propelled the popularity of this social network, which until now was essentially a playground for young people, to the top. "The platform has been particularly popular among Internet users for entertainment during lockdown. It helped users to overcome this difficult period," confirms TikTok.
Its success is based on the adoption of the codes of the main platforms, Vertical video consumption, messaging platform from a hashtag, the appearance of filters, all while integrating a new way of staging and producing content.
We can already say that the application is now one of the platforms that counts. It is part of the very closed circle of social networks with a global reach.
With its exponential growth, TikTok is now scaring the counters, but the rise of the Chinese platform is also causing a lot of concern in the United States and Europe.
Driven by lockdown "with nearly one billion users".
According to SensorTower, a company that measures the popularity of applications, TikTok surpassed 2 billion downloads worldwide in April, attracting many new subscribers with the pandemic. The app, which had 800 million users in its community in January, is now close to a billion members. "The period that has just elapsed has strengthened the craze for platforms, and particularly for TikTok," confirms TikTok.
The lockdown measures have increased the audiences of the social network, now reached by adults, whereas it was until now mainly popular with young people. "Of course we have a core target audience that is the Millennials, but in and of itself our audience spectrum is much broader. And this is what the crisis we have just experienced has revealed," says TikTok.
The arrival of some celebrities [Messi, Ronaldo, Jennifer Lopez or Mariah Carey] and influential women, who started to make video formats during the lockdown, has brought a whole new audience, a new generation of slightly older adults,.
We've gone from a lightweight video platform to a real social network that matters.
Advertisers are also a little less reticent than before and are starting to invest a little more in the platform. Major brands such as Coca Cola or Orangina are now present on the application. The recent arrival of major media also allows the social network to take on a new dimension by broadcasting different, less personal and more informative content. Finally, TikTok reminds us a little of the beginnings of Facebook and Instagram. The app uses the same strategy as its competitors, by forging partnerships to establish a certain legitimacy.
The social network has also taken an "activist" turn in recent weeks, mobilizing for major causes such as the fight against sexual harassment or even more recently the fight against racism with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Nearly 8 billion videos have been exchanged under this keyword, which went viral after the death of George Floyd in the United States. This is something quite new. Young people are now using it as an activist and advocacy tool to get messages across, especially in the debate for the presidential race. And at the same time, we see fewer karaoke videos, choreographies... In a few months, we've gone from a "light" video platform to a real social network that counts.
An application "under high surveillance"
The success of the application, owned by the Chinese giant ByteDance, and its exponential growth, is now a cause for concern at the highest levels of government. In early March, the US Congress passed a law banning the use of the platform by employees of federal agencies, as elected officials feared that the company would pass on information to the Chinese government. An investigation for "threatening the security and interests of the country" was also opened last November in the United States. And the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) announced that it would look into social networking practices. The European Parliament is particularly concerned about "TikTok's data collection methods".
A year and a half ago, it was already said that TikTok was a haven for pedophiles and that it was a dangerous platform for teenagers. Today, the application has evolved, but concerns remain, and there is still a lot of mistrust, rightly or wrongly.
TikTok is the first foreign application to establish such a strong foothold across the Atlantic. This is a first for a Chinese Internet platform, since the successes of Web giants such as WeChat have so far been confined to Asia. As for the problem of collecting personal data, this is a concern inherent to all social platforms.
Well aware of the mistrust it can generate, the app is now trying to reassure its users. "We take privacy seriously and we are committed to ensuring that TikTok remains a secure network for our members," says the platform's spokesperson.
"We have strict community rules. They were updated in January to make them more accessible and understandable to users. On 31 December, TikTok also published its first ever transparency report. "This is a strong step for a social network as young as ours, it shows the efforts we are making in this area," adds the spokesperson of TikTok. The video application has also multiplied initiatives to convince of its independence from Beijing by announcing the upcoming opening of a "transparency center" in Los Angeles in order to reassure consumers about data collection.