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TikTok: When was it created and who owns it?

Where does the controversial app come from?

Published onMarch 3, 2023

Tik Tok stock photo 4
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

TikTok is one of the most popular social media platforms worldwide, with over a billion active monthly users as of early 2023. The short-format videos offer fun, snackable content. While we all love spending some minutes (or hours) swiping through entertaining videos, most people don’t really know where TikTok even comes from. Let’s get you up to speed on who owns TikTok, its story, and why it’s such a controversial platform.

Guide: How to make TikTok videos

Who created it, and when was TikTok made?

TikTok stock photo 7
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

The short answer is that ByteDance created Tiktok in Beijing, China. There’s a much longer response that’s quite convoluted. The truth is that TikTok has undergone multiple name changes, and it still has a Chinese version that operates separately. The Chinese version is “Douyin.”

The first version of TikTok was, and its initial launch was in September 2016. ByteDance then rebranded the app to Douyin, which means “vibrating sound.” This happened only months after the launch, in December 2016.

TikTok first appeared under its current name in September 2017, but only in a limited amount of markets. It only became available worldwide after ByteDance merged with another Chinese social network, This didn’t happen until August 2018.

Who owns TikTok?

Currently, Chinese company ByteDance owns TikTok. Zhang Yiming is the owner and founder. Though he was CEO of ByteDance until November 2021, the company is now led by Shou Zi Chew.

Also: How to go live on TikTok

Why is TikTok so popular?

TikTok stock photo 6
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

TikTok and its Chinese version are global hits. Douyin had over 100 million users within a year and over a billion video views per day. It also quickly reached the top lists in many countries only months after its global release. There is even a whole category of abbreviations and phrases that are unique to TikTok.

What is it that made TikTok such a success? Aside from the fun videos, dances, lip-syncing, and other fun clips, TikTok had some crucial catalysts. The Merge with gave TikTok a good push forward, giving it direct access to the rest of the globe, and helping it acquire an already-active community. All and TikTok accounts consolidated into a single app.

Soon after the merger and global expansion, TikTok received broad support, including from celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, Tony Hawk, Will Smith, Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, and others.

TikTok is simply a fun app with entertaining videos that are easy and quick to consume. It’s addictive and personal. People enjoy sharing experiences, following trends, and viewing exciting clips.

More: How to make money on TikTok

Why are countries banning TikTok?

Tiktok stock photo on smartphone - Who owns TikTok?
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

If TikTok is so great, why are some countries banning it, and others continue trying to? There are multiple reasons for this. Some believe TikTok contains nudity, obscene language, offensive content, and other immoral elements. There are also addiction concerns, as users tend to have difficulty putting the phone down.

All moral agendas aside, though, the main worry (at least to the USA) is privacy. Upon request, ByteDance must cooperate with Chinese authorities. This could threaten US national security, as TikTok collects a large amount of information about its users. Here’s what the US Department of Commerce had to say about TikTok: “While the threats posed by WeChat and TikTok are not identical, they are similar. Each collects vast swaths of data from users, including network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories. Each is an active participant in China’s civil-military fusion and is subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services of the CCP. This combination results in the use of WeChat and TikTok creating unacceptable risks to our national security.”

While TikTok managed to stay active in the USA, and the company is said to even be planning an expansion into e-commerce in America, it has been banned in many other countries. These include Afghanistan, Armenia, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Taiwan, Iran, Pakistan, and others. It’s also unavailable in China, as users in this country have Douyin. If you’re worried about privacy concerns, your best bet is to delete your TikTok account. You can also look at the best TikTok alternatives.

Next: Common TikTok issues and how to fix them


ByteDance created TikTok. It’s the current owner of the app.

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.

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