TikTok , also known in China as Douyin ( Chinese:抖 音 短 视频; pinyin: Dǒuyīn duǎnshìpín), is a Chinese video portal for lip synchronization of music videos and other short video clips that also offers functions of a social network .  TikTok is available as a mobile app for Android and iOS . On August 2, 2018, the app became the successor to Musical.ly, In 2018, TikTok was one of the fastest growing mobile apps in the world and was the leading short video platform in Asia with the world’s largest playback video community.
The TikTok app allows users to view music clips and record and edit short clips, including by adding special effects and filters.
To create your own video, first select background music or sound recording, then take the picture with the cell phone camera . A video clip suitable for the selected audio track can be created within the specified time period of a maximum of 15 seconds, mostly by karaoke or playback singing and acting. 
The TikTok music list contains a large selection of music styles and audio clips from various media.  There are 19 categories in total.  In addition, there are different thematic hashtags and Internet challenges, among which videos are collected. The most popular videos in the respective language region and internationally are displayed on the main page and can be wiped through. Registration is not required to watch videos, but it is required to create video clips and interact with other members. User data is analyzed by an artificial intelligence . The target group are largely teenagers .
Beginnings and fusion with Musical.ly
TikTok was launched in September 2016 by Zhang Yiming , the founder of Toutiao . In January 2017, the company received several million renminbi from the Toutiao Group to further expand the platform. Expansion to the Indonesian market began in September 2017. 
Beijing Bytedance Technology , bought Musical.ly , another popular Chinese short video social platform, in November 2017 a deal worth 800 million to one billion US dollars on.
In August 2018, the TikTok app was merged with that of musical.ly to connect the eastern and western markets. The result kept the name TikTok, and users of the two former apps were brought together on one platform. Musical.ly had a bad image and was criticized for attracting pedophiles . The name change should make this forgotten.      
User and download numbers
According to the operator, the app reached 150 million active users daily in June 2018 and 500 million active users from 150 countries per month.  It was also the most downloaded iPhone app in the world in the first quarter of 2018 with an estimated 45.8 million downloads.  It is the most popular app in China and installed on approximately 14% of all Chinese smartphones.  In August 2019, the app was number 1 on the download charts with 63 million downloads, overtaking WhatsApp .  In November 2018, around 4.1 million monthly active German Tiktok users (54 percent of whom were women) spent an average of around 39 minutes a day in the app. By February 2019, the app had been downloaded over a billion times in total.  In November 2019, TikTok achieved one billion monthly active benefits, making TikTok part of the fast-growing social network.
General criticism and protection of minors
Due to the harmless presentation and lack of information about the consequences and rights of use, the platform came under criticism for not offering sufficient protection of minors and data protection for a possibly influenceable and reckless young target group. There is also criticism that too little action is being taken against sexism and cyberbullying in the comments.     TikTok wants to prevent this in the future and therefore build a security center in Germany. Machine learning is to be used to locate and remove critical content. To reduce the number of negative comments, TikTok reduced the reach of people with disabilities or obesity and queers . 
In 2019, TikTok will face a US $ 5.7 million fine. The background is the inadequate protection of minors. 
In December 2019, a second class action lawsuit was filed by parents for the lack of data protection of minors. 
Blocked in Indonesia and India
Indonesia temporarily blocked the TikTok app from July 3, 2018 due to concerns about illegal content such as pornography and blasphemy . The app was unlocked a week later as several changes were implemented, including removing critical content, opening a government liaison office, and introducing age restrictions and security mechanisms. 
In April 2019, TikTok was also temporarily blocked in the Indian version of the Google Play Store and App Store due to allegations that the app instigated pornographic content. 
Censorship of political and religious issues
TikTok reserves the right to remove political content if it is in the interest of the Chinese government. For example, the protests in Hong Kong in 2019 were censored in TikTok.  TikTok also censors content criticizing Chinese socialism . Non-violent Falun Gong content is classified as “violence” to delete it (see also Persecution of Falun Gong ).
Controversial issues such as conflicts of belief or ethnic and political conflicts are undesirable. Conflicts and debates should therefore be avoided deliberately and instead the focus should be on entertainment.   To achieve this, TikTok reduces or increases the distribution of selected content through moderation levels. 
There are also country-specific rules that keep lists of personalities and topics that should not be criticized. In Turkey, for example, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan must not be criticized. The naming of “non-Islamic gods” such as Jesus , Mary or angels is also prohibited in Turkey . 
Limiting criticism and potentially vulnerable content to bullying
It also became known from the internal guidelines that moderators can block posts with criticism of the company or the mention of competition. 
From this it also became known that TikTok also restricted the content of users who could be bullied due to this content. These include disabilities , LGBT issues or overweight people . The range of this content is limited by TikTok from ten thousand views and is marked “Auto_R”. Some content above a certain number of views has even completely disappeared from the news feed.  This also affects German vloggers who report on their disabilities. TikTok is therefore accused of promoting prejudice and restricting freedom of expression . 
Blocking homosexual content
In addition to nudity and alcohol consumption , the distribution of homosexual content or its approval on TikTok is prohibited. If content related to homosexuality is published, TikTok can block it. This regulation is regulated globally, and therefore also affects countries in which homosexuality is not punishable. TikTok relies on the protection of minors.
This regulation has been heavily criticized because it limits sexual self-determination and freedom of expression and puts homosexuals in a negative light and presents them as undesirable. It is not, as is appropriate for the protection of minors, only forbidden sexual acts in general, but directly sexual orientation. One reason for this may be the avoidance of legal disputes with countries where homosexuality is punishable. 
Reasons for success
TikTok is particularly popular with Generation Z and has taken over many users from Musical.ly. The app is characterized by simplified operation and a design that particularly appeals to young people. TikTok also has a large music library and many video editing options. There are only a few corporate channels on TikTok, so that users feel like they are alone and can more easily identify with the video content. However, some companies also see a gap in this market and therefore produce for TikTok.
The success is also a result of the closure of the short video platform Vine in 2017 and a lack of competition. TikTok was primarily drawn to through viral marketing and influencer marketing . In addition, Internet challenges generated additional attention through corresponding hashtags . 
Popularity and influence
The popularity of the app caused viral trends , Internet challenges and brought Internet notoriety around the world with thousands or millions of followers. It also made songs famous and is used by celebrities .    A section of the rap song “Mia Khalifa” by iLOVEFRiDAY’s about the porn actress of the same name , who is also known as “Hit “ has been added to best-known Internet memes from TikTok.
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