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TikTok: What is the viral app sparking a social media frenzy?

It's one of the most-downloaded apps in the world

Olivia Petter
Wednesday 13 March 2019 11:06 GMT
Jimmy Kimmel starts new tiktok trend: The tumbleweed challenge

TikTok is quickly becoming one of the most popular apps in the world.

The innovative short-form video app used to be known as, which merged with TikTok in August 2018.

Three months later and TikTok had acquired six million downloads, with more than 500 million active users across 150 countries.

In September 2018, it surpassed Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to become the most-downloaded app in the US that month, according to a TechCrunch report.

Read on for everything you need to know about this increasingly successful app.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a social media app that enables users to film short videos of themselves lip-syncing to songs or comedy sketches.

The idea, according to the company, is to “empower everyone to be a creator directly from their smartphones”.

It’s particularly popular among teenagers and was created in 2016 by a Beijing-based tech company called ByteDance, which launched in 2012 and was valued at $75bn (£57.3bn) last November.

But it wasn’t until ByteDance acquired in November 2017 and subsequently absorbed it in August, migrating all accounts over to TikTok, that the app skyrocketed in popularity.

It now has more global active users than Twitter (336 million) and Snapchat (186 million) combined.

How does it work?

TikTok users can choose from a catalogue of music videos and comedy dialogue to lip synch to.

After recording their video, which can be anywhere between 15 and 60 seconds, they can then share it directly with other users or post it straight to Instagram or Snapchat.

Why is it so popular?

One of the reasons why TikTok is so popular is because of the various social media challenges that people have created for it.

Many of these are endorsed by celebrities and influencers, such as US TV host Jimmy Fallon, who recently launched a #tumbleweedchallenge that called on TikTok users to film themselves dropping to the floor and rolling around like a tumbleweed, while lip syncing, of course.

Other viral TikTok clips include ones of people dancing, performing gymnastics and one in particular of a girl lip syncing to the viral "catch me outside" clip from an episode of Dr Phil.

Because the videos people create are often very funny, TikTok lends itself to shareable content.

Many clips end up garnering millions of shares on Facebook and Twitter, and there are numerous compilations of the most weird and wonderful videos on YouTube.

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