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Updated Jul 03, 2023 at 03:28PM EDT by sakshi.

Added May 15, 2018 at 03:48PM EDT by Matt.

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TikTok, also known as Douyin (抖音短视频), is a video sharing application similar to Musical.ly. The app allows users to make simple music videos, giving them a 15-second recording limit, editing tools and a list of background music to select. As of May 2018, the app had been downloaded more than 45 million times.


Douyin, then called "A.me," was launched in September 2016 by Zhang Yiming, the founder of Toutiao, a Chinese news platform.[1] Later that year, on December 12th, 2016, the app changed the name to "Douyin."[2]

On January 9th, 2017, the company received $1 million in seed investment to fund the app.

In May 2018, the app became the most downloaded app on the Apple App Store for the first quarter of 2018. During the first quarter of 2018, the app had been downloaded more than 45 million times.[4]


Douyin offers users a simple set of features for producing short-form music videos. Users first select background music from a list of available tracks. Once selected, they are able to record 15 seconds of video and upload them to the newsfeed, which can be viewed by followers. There is also a series of editing tools that allow users to add effects, such as text and video speed control, to the videos.

The news feed plays videos automatically as users scroll through the videos. On April 13th, 2018, the app launched an anti-addiction campaign to slow down how often people used the app. After 90 minutes of continuous use, users will received an alert, and after two hours, the app locks and can only be unlocked by entering a password.[3]


The TikTok app features various special effects. When users attempt to make a video they are able to browse the trending effects tag. A notable addition to the trending effects was "infinity clone" in April 2019 (shown below). TikTok user @minidoodlebentley and @iwantto vomit1 have made popular videos using this effect, accumulating over 12,000 likes each within a week (shown below).


TikTok, like Snapchat and Instagram , have many face filters to choose from along with "faces" for pets which add accessories like hats. TikTok users are also able to add frame transition and movement effects. Users @mctaipwon and @itsme…jordyn have posted videos featuring many of these effects (shown below).



China Ban's Peppa Pig

On April 28th, 2018, the Chinese government imposed a censorship to ban all videos featuring the cartoon character Peppa Pig from the app. Shortly after Peppa vanished from Douyin a screenshot (shown below) of what appears to be the company's content blacklist began circulating on the Chinese social media, which lists Peppa along with other state-imposed censorship on images of nudity, gunplay, cross dressing and depictions of cults. Prior to the ban, the hashtag #PeppaPig had been associated with at least 30,000 posts on the platform.

The ban, which has yet to be officially confirmed, did not stopped all users from sharing images of Peppa as some have begun sharing under the alternative hashtags #PiggyPiggy and #PeppaPeppa.

Federal Trade Commission Settlement

On February 27th, 2019 The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)[5] announced on Twitter that "Musical.ly, now known as TikTok, will pay $5.7 million to settle FTC allegations that the company illegally collected personal info from children in violation of Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (#COPPA)" (shown below).

@FTC #BREAKING: Musical.ly, now known as TikTok, will pay $5.7 million to settle FTC allegations that the company illegally collected personal info from children in violation of Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (#COPPA): ftc.gov/news- events/pr (14) #privacy 9:52 AM-27 Feb 2019

The FTC continued on to explain that this was the larges settlement obtained in a COPPA case as TikTok blatantly ignored the complaints from parents and the fact that many users were under the age of 13 and took children's personal info without parental consent.

On February 28th, TikTok released a new version of the app that required the user to provide their date of birth and if they are under the age of 13 they will be directed to a limited version of the app where they will be unable to post videos to the app. [6]

Calvin Klein

On March 6th, Fashion company Calvin Klien announced a departure from the runway and a new scheme to marketing their products.[9] Calvin Klien closed their Milan department and started a TikTok account. Their new approach is due to declining sales. This event marked a new shift in the important influence TikTok has on impressionable teens and young adults. The campaign involves short video bios of celebrities like Shawn Mendes, Kylie Jenner and Asaprocky (shown below).


India's App Download Ban

On April 3rd, 2019, India's Madras high court presented a petition for the central government to ban TikTok as it was "encouraging pornography."[12] As of April 16th, the App was taken off the Google and Apple app store. The next hearings on the matter are scheduled for April 22nd. In a statement, TikTok voiced that it remains optimistic that the App will be available for download in India soon.[11] On April 17th, after news spread about the ban media outlets like The Quint[10] suggested that, "The ban is likely to trigger a spurt of forums filled with information on third-party stores from where #TikTok can be downloaded" (shown below).

The Quinto @TheQuint The ban is likely to trigger a spurt of forums filled with information on third-party stores from where #TikTok can be downloaded. #TikTokban TikTok Tiktok Can Still Be Downloaded Despite Ban by India's Lawmakers The live-streaming app has been taken down from mobile app stores in the country this week. thequint.com 4:18 AM-17 Apr 2019


Prior to the The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)[5] announcement on Twitter that "Musical.ly, now known as TikTok, will pay $5.7 million to settle FTC allegations that the company illegally collected personal info from children in violation of Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (#COPPA)" various TikTok users began exposing predators on TikTok and in YouTube videos. One of the first TikTok users to be exposed for inappropriate behavior was @TheBudday. On October 1st, 2019, @bithoeji uploaded a video explaining the accusations against TheBudday (shown below, left). On October 9th, 2018, BionicPIG uploaded a video outlining accusations of inappropriate messaging with underage TikTok users (shown below, shown below, right).


On February 8th, 2019, TikTok user Tyler Myles uploaded a video to YouTube titled, "A Twenty-Two Year Old Was Pressuring Me…" referring to TikTok user @lucifer or @irathefallen (shown below, left). The video gained over 40,700 views and 3,600 likes in five months. On March 25th, YouTuber Owlsparks uploaded videos made by Lucifer/IraTheFallen addressing and denying claims (shown below, right). That month a petition[14] was set up to remove him from the app which has yet to be accomplished. On June 24th, BuzzFeed[13] news outlined various sexual predators on TikTok noting that some are still active on the app while others have been banned or arrested.[15] TikTokkers are taking action by liking and commenting on inappropriate videos to get them on the "For You" page which make the video/user more likely to be deleted by TikTok. Others turn to petitions[14] or uploading videos with proof.

Karma Is a Bitch

Karma Is a Bitch also known as the Karma Is a Bitch Challenge, is a selfie
video fad in which participants lip sync the line "karma is a bitch" uttered by the character Veronica from the television show Riverdale before cutting to a striking slow-motion transformation shot, often using a costume, hair and makeup change accompanied by a seductive pose while the 2011 hip-hop song "Gucci Gucci" by Kreayshawn plays in the background. The videos, which are made using the Chinese video app Douyin, bear many similarities to the Don't Judge Me Challenge.

Divorce TikTok

On February 18th, 2019, Twitter user @Mikaela_Wild posted a thread of TikTok videos in which people appeared to be reacting towards a breakup they were going through. These videos were set to dramatic music and often featured the subjects staging dramatic moments, such as throwing their wedding ring to the camera or burning their marriage certificate. Her first tweet in the thread featuring a video by TikTok user @lakehayes gained over 25,000 retweets and 168,000 likes (shown below).

Other tweets in her thread which grew popular include that of a video by user @craigb73 (shown below, top) and another by @angryairman that used a song to the tune of Rockefeller Street (shown below, bottom).

The meme was covered by Daily Dot,[7] who also covered the trend on the app where users would get "TikTok Married," in which users post duets and perform romantic acts on the site with users they have crushes on. The thread was also covered by Cheezburger.[8]

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