TikTok, the globally popular short-form video platform, was created by the Chinese tech company ByteDance and launched in September 2016. While it initially gained traction in China as Douyin, its international prominence soared after the merger with the lip-syncing app Musical.ly in August 2018. This merger marked a pivotal moment in TikTok’s evolution, leading to its widespread adoption and cultural impact worldwide.

When was TikTok created?

TikTok’s origins are actually more complex than a single creation date. Here’s a breakdown:


Launched in September 2016 in China, this is considered TikTok’s original counterpart. It quickly gained popularity within the country.


Launched internationally in September 2017, this version aimed to replicate Douyin’s success on a global scale.


Another popular short-form video app created in 2014. In 2018, ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company) acquired Musical.ly and merged it with TikTok, further expanding its user base.

So, while September 2016 marks the birth of Douyin, which eventually evolved into TikTok, the international version we know today launched in September 2017.

Who owns TikTok?

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese technology company founded in 2012. However, the ownership structure of ByteDance itself is somewhat complex:

  • 60%: Owned by global institutional investors such as BlackRock, General Atlantic, and Susquehanna International Group.
  • 20%: Owned by the company’s founders and other Chinese investors.
  • 20%: Owned by ByteDance employees, including over 7,000 Americans.

It’s important to note that while ByteDance originated in China, it operates globally and has a diverse ownership structure. The company has also made efforts to address concerns about data security and privacy, particularly in the wake of political tensions between the US and China.

Here are some additional points to consider:

  • ByteDance is a privately held company, meaning it is not publicly traded on the stock market.
  • TikTok’s headquarters are located in both Los Angeles and Singapore, in addition to its main office in Beijing.
  • The ownership structure of ByteDance has been a topic of debate, with some raising concerns about potential Chinese government influence over the company. However, ByteDance has repeatedly denied any such influence and has taken steps to ensure data security, such as storing user data outside of China.

Why is TikTok so popular?

There are many reasons why TikTok has become so popular, let’s explore some of the key factors:

Short-form video format:

In today’s fast-paced world, audiences have increasingly shorter attention spans. TikTok’s bite-sized videos, typically ranging from 15 to 60 seconds, cater perfectly to this trend. Users can consume a multitude of content in a short timeframe, making it highly engaging and addictive.

User-friendly interface and editing tools:

Creating content on TikTok is incredibly easy. The intuitive interface and built-in editing tools allow users of all skill levels to quickly record, edit, and add effects to their videos. This lowers the barrier to entry and encourages broader participation, fostering a vibrant community of creators.

Viral challenges and trends:

TikTok thrives on its algorithm’s ability to identify and promote trending content. Popular challenges and dances go viral quickly, attracting wide participation and creating a sense of shared experience. This virality keeps users engaged and checking back for the latest trends.

Music integration:

Music plays a central role in the TikTok experience. Users can incorporate licensed music and sound effects into their videos, adding another layer of creativity and emotional resonance. This feature allows for diverse content creation, spanning humor, dance, storytelling, and more.

Focus on entertainment and creativity:

Unlike some platforms that prioritize news or information sharing, TikTok is primarily focused on entertainment and self-expression. This makes it a go-to platform for users seeking an escape from daily stresses and an opportunity to be creative and showcase their talents.

Diverse and relatable content:

While Gen Z is its core demographic, TikTok caters to a wide range of interests and age groups. The platform’s algorithm effectively tailors content to individual preferences, ensuring users see content they find relevant and engaging. This diversity helps retain users and attract new ones from different backgrounds.

Community and collaboration:

TikTok fosters a strong sense of community through features like duets, stitches, and reactions. Users can collaborate with others, respond to popular trends, and build an audience across borders. This collaborative aspect adds another layer of engagement and fosters a sense of belonging.

Evolving features and updates:

TikTok is constantly adding new features and functionalities, keeping the platform fresh and exciting. This responsiveness to user feedback and trends helps maintain engagement and attract new users seeking innovative ways to express themselves.


The original version of TikTok is Douyin. This is also the current Chinese version of the application.

TikTok is currently banned in China, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, among others. It has also seen temporary bans in Indonesia and the USA.

Mostly for security reasons, as the app collects much personal information from its users, and it has to collaborate with Chinese authorities if they request it. Additionally, some people have moral reasons to shun TikTok. These include its potential to create addiction, as well as exposure to inappropriate content.


In conclusion, TikTok has emerged as a cultural phenomenon since its creation by ByteDance in September 2016. The platform’s ownership by the Chinese tech company and its subsequent merger with Musical.ly in August 2018 played crucial roles in shaping its global success. TikTok’s popularity can be attributed to its user-friendly interface, algorithmic content recommendations, diverse content genres, music integration, and a vibrant global community. The platform’s ability to innovate, foster trends, and appeal to a broad audience. particularly the younger demographic, has solidified its position as a leading short-form video platform. As TikTok continues to evolve, its impact on social media and digital culture remains significant.

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