TikTok, the social video platform that has captivated young audiences and run afoul of the Trump Administration, has surpassed 1 billion monthly active users worldwide. The current user level represents a 45% leap from mid-2020.
The company, which is owned by Chinese conglomerate ByteDance, announced the milestone in a blog post. “TikTok has become a beloved part of life for people around the world because of the creativity and authenticity of our creators,” the post said. “Our global community is remarkable in its ability to reach millions of people, across generations.”
Fueled by an architecture that promotes sharing across other apps, TikTok caught on with younger users because of its catchy mix of quick cutting, music and creative expression. TikTok launched in the U.S. in 2017, several years after ByteDance was formed.
The collection of users’ data landed TikTok on the hot seat with the U.S. government during the presidency of Donald Trump. Officials in the Trump Administration viewed TikTok as a security liability and a tool for Chinese authorities to use to glean sensitive information from Americans.
In 2020, Trump issued an executive order forcing ByteDance to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to a U.S.-led concern or risk having its app taken offline. A consortium including Oracle and Walmart emerged as the buyer, but TikTok and ByteDance successfully challenged the executive order in court. President Biden, after being sworn in last January, ordered a review of the situation, effectively shelving the sale.
Even though the political pressure has eased somewhat in the U.S., TikTok has found itself under intensifying regulatory scrutiny around the world. Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal published results of an analysis showing that TikTok directs underage users to inappropriate sex- and drug-related content.
Because ByteDance is private, information about TikTok has been shared only at select times, with the legal drama of 2020 revealing more user data than the company had ever disclosed. In announcing the 1 billion users, TikTok did not elaborate on where the users are, how much they view on the platform, or break down any demographics.