TikTok – 31 Interesting Stats and Facts

Vine was one of the most used social video sharing platforms when it was still active. Its unique focus on heavily edited short-form videos brought it mass appeal. However, it was shut down in 2016 and left a niche open to be captured. Here is where the Chinese app Douyin came forward to shine.

Recognizing the vacuum for a successful short-form video-sharing app in the western world, ByteDance rebranded Douyin as ‘TikTok’ and released it worldwide, unlike Douyin, which was and still is exclusive to China.

TikTok saw some use from Vine’s leftover audience but was heavily overshadowed by the app ‘Musical.ly,’ which allowed users to generate video with them lip-syncing to a song. Instead of trying to fight Musical.ly for its audience, a move which have been detrimental to both apps, ByteDance proceeded to buy Musical.ly and secured its 100 million-strong userbase for itself.

Since then, TikTok has grown to be one of the most used apps on the planet and has even surpassed Facebook and Instagram in terms of downloads for the year 2019. In this listicle, we’ll take a look at the interesting facts and statistics associated with this Beijing based app and also look at some of the controversies in which it has been embroiled.

Quick Facts

TikTok’s success is built upon it providing its users with a quick series of videos to consume quickly. So, here we take a page from TikTok’s book and look at some really quick facts about the viral app.

  1. TikTok is available in over 150 countries, and 75 languages.
  2. TikTok was downloaded more than Facebook and Instagram were in 2019.
  3. Facebook has released a TikTok clone after the latter’s viral success. It is named Lasso and has around 70,000 users.
  4. ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, has earned twice as much money in 2019 as it did in 2018.
  5. TikTok has caused at least ten deaths and countless accidents.

Usage Stats

Let’s begin our dive into understanding the prevalence of one of the most popular apps on the market today by looking at some interesting facts associated with the usage of TikTok.

1. It took TikTok only 2.5 years to reach 500 million monthly users: TikTok, originally released as Douyin in China, was released in September of 2016. Within just 2.5 years, it managed to achieve the goal of having 500 million active users. For reference, it took Instagram six years to hit this milestone, while Facebook took a little over four years.

(Source: Variety)

2. TikTok crossed 1 billion downloads in February 2019: Just nine months after hitting 500 million users, TikTok crashed the 1 billion mark. This growth was mainly via South East Asian countries, like China, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam. Snapchat took nearly 18 months to go from 500 million to 1 billion users.

(Source: Sensor Tower)

3. TikTok clocked 1.5 billion downloads in November 2019: The growing success of TikTok didn’t stop with the 1 billion mark. Through 2019, TikTok managed to attract a further 500 million users within just under seven months, marking itself as the fastest-growing non-game app in history.

(Source: Sensor Tower)

4. Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese version and successor, reached 150 million users within China in just two years: TikTok had always been poised for success. Its predecessor and Chinese variant, Douyin, had attracted 150 million users in China in just two years. While most apps would consider the figure of 150 million to be a huge number globally, Douyin had 150 million users in just one country.

(Source: technode.com)

5. India is the biggest new market for TikTok, generating 45% of the new installs in 2019: While initially TikTok’s massive growth rate was a result of China, Thailand, and Singapore rapidly adapting the app as their social platform of choice, the real massive spike in 2019 came from India. Indian users accounted for nearly 45% of all the new downloads in 2019, totaling around 477 million users. This figure is larger than the new users in China, the USA, UK, South East Asia, and Russia combined!

(Source: Economic Times)

6. TikTok’s home, China, containing the second biggest userbase after India, generated only 7.4% of new users in 2019: China may have been where the seed of TikTok grew into the giant plant it is now, but the growth of the app has fallen massively in its homeland in 2019. China only managed to generate 7.4% of the new users in 2019, lagging far behind India. This is still the second largest number of new users, which should give you an idea of TikTok’s popularity in India.

(Source: Economic Times)

7. TikTok is the third most downloaded non-gaming app in the world: TikTok growth rate reflects in its download metrics over the various app stores online. It was the third most downloaded non-gaming app in the world, with 614 million downloads in 2019. It lagged behind WhatsApp messenger, which had 707.4 million unique downloads, and Facebook messenger, with 636.2 million unique downloads. The other two apps on the list are Facebook and Instagram.

(As a side note, the fact that Facebook owns 4 of the top 5 most downloaded apps in the world, combined with their pattern of getting data stolen, or misusing data, is a chilling notion.)

Can cross-reference the Facebook data breach article

(Source: Economic Times)

8. 68% of the users indicated that they use the app only to view other users’ videos: Like most major video platforms, a majority of TikTok users don’t create videos. Instead, they prefer just to watch what other users are uploading. Even though the creation of a well-edited and effect layered video in TikTok is an easier prospect, 68% of the users just watch the readily available content.

(Source: Global Web Index)

9. 41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 – 24 years old: TikTok is widely popular among the youth of the world. Gen Y forms the major userbase for this app, with as many as 41% of all users being in the age group of 16-24 years old. Keep in mind that most of these don’t actually create the videos on the platform; they just use it for entertainment.

(Source: Global Web Index)

10. The number of adult TikTok users in the USA has grown by almost 5.5 times in less than 18 months: While it is true that the majority of the TikTok userbase are teenagers, the adult userbase has been growing steadily. This spike was mainly due to Jimmy Fallon’s ringing endorsement of the platform. In early 2018, Jimmy Fallon started issuing challenges on TikTok, the first of which was the ‘Tumbleweed’ challenge. This led to the number of US adults using the platform exploded, rising by almost 5.5 times in less than 18 months.

(Source: Marketing Charts)

11. 55.6% of TikTok users are male: When it was released to western audiences, TikTok mainly drew the attention of teenage girls. Since then, the dramatic rise of popularity of the app has led to a mostly male userbase. As many as 55.6% of all users are male. This might simply be due to the average male to female ratio in most countries.

(Source: App Ape Lab)

12. The average TikTok user activates the app more around 43 times a day: TikTok is a platform that is based around the consumption of 15 – 60 seconds long videos. Owing to this fact, most people open the app multiple times in a day to get the best experience of the fresher uploads. This leads to an absurdly high activation index (as it’s known in the app development world). The average TikTok user opens the app 43 times in a single day. If we take aa average of 16 hours awake time for a user, that comes up to nearly three times in a single hour! However, despite the extremely high activation index, the average user spends only around 52 minutes on the app in a day, coming to a usage time of 1 minute 12 seconds every time the app is opened.

(Source: App Ape Lab)

13. Indian users spend 34 minutes on the app daily: As we saw, India represents a huge chunk of the TikTok user base. Despite this popularity, Indian users are among the least active users on the platform. On average, an India user only spends around 34 minutes per day accessing TikTok. Compared to the global average of 52 minutes, this is very less. The activation index for Indian users is also marginally low than the global average, coming up to around 29.

(Source: Times of India)

14. TikTok is used in all but six countries: TikTok originated in china but soon started to the entire world by storm. As of 2019, there are only six countries in the world without a single TikTok user. These countries are mainly ones that are extremely dedicated to censorship and control, like North Korea and Cuba.

(Source: Apptrace)

15. In less than a year since TikTok’s release, 1 billion videos were watched on the platform: TikTok’s success is based entirely around the ease with which its users can consume. This ease of consumption has led to a huge number of videos being watched on the platform. In just under a year, 1 billion videos were watched on TikTok, with an average of 1 million videos being watched daily even in December 2019.

(Source: Tech Crunch)

16. The most famous TikTok account was Lisa and Lena, who had more than 32.2 million followers: TikTok has over 1 billion active accounts on the platform right now. Most of these accounts have under ten followers. However, this was not the case with the German twins Lisa and Lena. At the height of their popularity, they had over 32.2 million followers on the platform, with over 2.1 billion likes on their videos. They recently shut their account down and moved their content over to YouTube.

(Source: TikTok)

17.Lisa and Lena can’t even come close to Chen He, Douyin’s most popular content creator: While TikTok has a much larger userbase than the exclusively Chinese Douyin, the Chinese actor Chen He commands a much larger audience than Lisa and Lena. At the peak of his popularity, Chen He had over 50.7 million followers, with slightly over 3 billion likes.

(Source: Douyin)

18. TikTok has a very low engagement rate, only around 29%, compared to Facebook’s 95%: Engagement rate for an application is defined as the number of monthly users that open the app every single day. Facebook and Instagram have an engagement rate of 95% and 93%, respectively, while TikTok’s rate is a paltry 29%. This might be because of a whole host of reasons. Some of these reasons may be Facebook’ (and by extension Instagram) use as a way to keep in touch with friends, the availability of instant news on the platforms, the heavy use of these platforms by influential people, among others. TikTok is mainly used as an entertainment application, and hence does not compel its users to open it every single day, but only when they feel the need for some quick and engaging content.

(Source: Apptopia)

TikTok goes the bank clock

Social media platforms earn a lot of money. Facebook, the world’s most used social media platform, earns over $50 billion in revenue yearly. Owning to TikTok’s massive rise in popularity recently, it his starting to become a lucrative target for marketers to exploit. Let’s take a brief look at some financial statistics associated with TikTok.

19. User spending on TikTok exceeded $175 million on the App Store and Google Play: TikTok is monetized in multiple ways. One of these ways is to allow users to donate to their favorite content creators during live streams and allowing users to buy coins to purchase various things. This user spending represents only a small portion of the income that is generated by the app. Even then, it is a sizable amount, with the lifetime user spending on the app exceeding $175 million recently.

(Source: Sensor Tower)

20. Chinese users account for 48.3% of all of TikTok’s user-generated revenue: The user-generated income comes mainly from the app’s homeland. Chinese users have been using the app for two more years than everyone else, and that might be one of the contributing characteristics of this statistic. Chinese users are still setting the trend when it comes to user (and coin) spending, generating 48.3% of all the non-marketing revenue. It should be noted that this figure includes the Chinese app, Douyin.

(Source: Sensor Tower)

21. Bytedance, worth $75 billion, is the highest valued startup of 2019: Venture capital firms placed its value at $75 billion, citing the far-reaching use of ‘Tik-Tok’ as one of the primary reasons for doing so. ByteDance beat out many other startups for this accolade. It was subsequently able to raise nearly $3 billion in investments, led by SoftBank.

(Source: Wall Street Journal)

22. ByteDance earned a little over $7 billion in the first half of 2019, more than their entire 2018 revenue: As we discussed earlier, 2019 was the year that TikTok truly exploded in popularity. ByteDance, prior to 2019, had not turned a profit since its initial financing stage and managed to earn around $8 billion in 2018. This changed with TikTok meteoric rise in 2019, and according to the financial reports published by the company, they earned a reported $7.2 billion in the first half of 2019. This means that ByteDance might end 2019 with nearly twice the revenue they generated last year, firmly placing them into the heavy hitters of the social media world.

(Source: Business Insider)

23. ByteDance purchased Musical.ly for $1 billion: Musical.ly was the western version of TikTok before TikTok ever became a thing. It allowed for users to create a 15 – 60 seconds long video while being able to lip-sync along to a song playing in the background. When Bytedance was looking to expand into the western market, Musical.ly’s audience was the first target to capture. Instead of trying to compete with them, they spent an exorbitant amount of money to purchase the app. After spending $1 billion, TikTok simply started with a huge jump.

(Source: Business Insider)

Controversy Galore

Massive popularity comes with its own share of problems, and TikTok is no exception to this rule. In its relatively short lifespan of four years, TikTok has been faced with a ton of controversies. Here we take a look into some of these controversies. It should be noted that ByteDance and its moderators denied all the following controversial decisions.

24. TikTok trends have caused 35 deaths and ten serious injuries across the world: With the introduction of any internet trend, there will always be people who take them too far and end up hurting themselves. TikTok’s users are no different. Since its worldwide release, there have been at least 35 deaths reported that were associated with TikTok. Most of these recent cases have come from India. Unfortunately, not all of them were caused due to TikTok’s trends. There have been at least three cases of murders being committed due to a TikTok video, eight cases of suicides being caused by TikTok’s audience, and the rest were accidents. These cases were one of the arguments levied against the app in its hearing in Madras Hight Court, which leads us to the next point.

(Source: tiktokdeath.com)

25. TikTok was briefly banned in India by the Madras High Court: TikTok exploded in popularity in India in 2019. This was met with a lot of criticism from the older generations since they believed that the users, mainly the younger generation, were being exposed to unsavory content. There were also questions being raised about the prevalence of sexual predators on the platform looking to hurt children. All of these factors and more led the Madras High Court, in the state of Tamil Nadu, to ask Google and Apple to remove TikTok from their respective stores in July 2019. However, the people who already had the app downloaded were allowed to keep using it until the court reached their final verdict. ByteDance agreed to remove nearly 6 million videos that the Censor Board of India deemed inappropriate and also implemented mush harsher moderation policies, specifically for the Indian servers of the app. The ban was subsequently lifted in August of 2019.

(Source: Verge)

26. At least two dozen accounts on TikTok have been verified to belong to ISIS: The Islamic State is notorious for looking for ways to manipulate the impressionable youth into believing in their mandates. Their newest approach to the same is to release videos on TikTok showing the life under the rule of ISIS. The videos are of farmers going about their day, talking about how the ISIS rule has brought peace to their lands and is overlaid with red and pink hearts. Since the origin of these accounts was revealed, they were swiftly banned by TikTok. However, the Wall Street Journal speculates that the accounts that were shut down only represented a smaller minority of the accounts in possession of the ISIS.

(Source: The Wall Street Journal)

27. TikTok suspended a girl for posting a video in support of Hong Kong: The Hong Kong protests have rocked the entire world and have put China’s draconian censorship in the spotlight. While a lot of international brands bent to China’s will in terms of their content, TikTok outright banned a user’s account for publishing a video that supported Hong Kong. This move was met with widespread criticism of the platform from across the world, with users boycotting the platform in large numbers. The account was swiftly reinstated, and an official statement was released that stated that the account ban had nothing to do with the protests. Exactly three people believed this statement.

(Source: Business Insider)

28. ByteDance was asked to endorse content praising the police and condemning the protestors during the Hong Kong protests: Since ByteDance is based in Beijing, a communist regime, it is directly subject to government policies. The government, realizing TikTok and Douyin’s large reach, asked the moderators to push content that supported the police action to the front page. They also asked them to drive the rating of the content supporting the protestors down, essentially creating a false sense of support for the state.

(Source: Australian Strategic Policy)

29. According to internal leaks, moderators were asked to remove content criticizing China: According to a tip received by The Guardian, American and European moderators were asked to remove or heavily suppress all content that criticized China. They also wanted any criticism about Chinese policies, like communism, constitutional monarchy, separation of powers, etc., to be removed. This was apparently done in an effort to reduce international awareness about the issues surrounding China and its policies. Censoring content inside China is one thing but forcing international audiences not to critique their cruel policies is a massive abuse of power.

(Source: The Guardian)

30. Moderators were asked to censor LGBTQ content in certain countries: The LGBTQ community has always been heavily oppressed throughout the world. China is one of the places where this community has absolutely no rights. So, on a platform that is based in Beijing, China was right on the mark to start taking away the basic right of speech from this community in other countries as well. Moderators were asked to outright remove any and all videos that depicted any LGBTQ content or even showed any support for the community.

(Source: Business Insider)

31. China asked moderators to censor videos with vaping and heavy kissing: Chinese society is notorious for its insistence to cling to old traditions and societal norms. Moderators across the world were asked to adhere to these norms when looking at videos for approval. Some of the things deemed ‘inappropriate’ were vaping and even ‘heavy’ kissing. How the moderators were supposed to distinguish between ‘normal’ and ‘heavy’ kissing is up for debate.

(Source: The Washington Post)

Data Sources & References

  1. Variety
  2. Sensor Tower
  3. Sensor Tower
  4. technode.com
  5. Economic Times
  6. Economic Times
  7. Economic Times
  8. Global Web Index
  9. Global Web Index
  10. Marketing Charts
  11. App Ape Lab
  12. App Ape Lab
  13. Times of India
  14. apptrace
  15. Tech Crunch
  16. TikTok
  17. Douyin
  18. Apptopia
  19. Sensor Tower
  20. Sensor Tower
  21. Wall Street Journal
  22. Business Insider
  23. Business Insider
  24. tiktokdeath.com
  25. Verge
  26. The Wall Street Journal
  27. Business Insider
  28. Australian Strategic Policy
  29. The Guardian
  30. Business Insider
  31. The Washington Post