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TikTok gaining on Facebook with 1 billion downloads, according to reports

The party don't start till you reach 1 billion.

Claire Reilly Former Principal Video Producer
Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
Expertise Space, Futurism, Science and Sci-Tech, Robotics, Tech Culture Credentials
  • Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
Claire Reilly
2 min read

TikTok built its social network on short, sharable videos.

Marta Franco/CNET

If you haven't heard of TikTok, you're now about a billion steps behind.

The social video app, which lets users record themselves lip-synching to popular music videos and share the clips with friends, has just surpassed 1 billion downloads on iOS and Android.

That's according to new figures from data insights firm Sensor Tower, which says the app is now pushing up against Facebook for app download dominance.

"Approximately 663 million of these installs occurred in 2018," Sensor Tower founder Oliver Yeh said in a blog post. "To put this into perspective, the Facebook app was installed an estimated 711 million times last year and Instagram saw about 444 million new downloads."

While Facebook might have global name recognition, TikTok is a giant in the social media space, especially in Asia. The app was created by Chinese company ByteDance, which has been privately valued at $75 billion according to Reuters, putting it on par with the country's biggest tech companies. But it's not without its problems -- the app recently came under fire with claims it was a "hunting ground" for abusers.

In a world where social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are constantly iterating to stay relevant and updating to woo young users (even attempting to create their own versions of the video sharing app), TikTok is a force to be reckoned with.

The 1 billion download figure is also only part of the story -- it includes TikTok's lite app versions and regional variations, according to Yeh, but not the number of downloads the app has received on Android in China (where it is known as Douyin). It also only points to how many times the app has been downloaded, but not how many of these users stick around and stay active.

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but on its website, the company says "in 2018, TikTok was one of the most downloaded apps in the world."