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By Bonginkosi Tiwane

Digital Journalist

TikTok the break-out star of social media in last five years

The impact of Covid-19 can’t be downplayed in how people interacted with social media in the last five years.

Despite being banned or restricted in a handful of countries, TikTok has seen a sharp rise in users over the last five years, a study has revealed.

But the social media platform still lags behind YouTube, Facebook and X (formerly Twitter).

TikTok showed the most explosive growth among all platforms, with a 60.15 times increase in visits, reaching 41.8 billion in 2023 from just 0.7 billion in 2019.

The study was conducted by Lifesight, a customer intelligence platform that helps brands and enterprises leverage identity resolution and data enrichment to power their customer data strategies.

TikTok is a short-form video hosting service owned by Chinese Internet Company ByteDance, which was found in 2016.

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TikTokThe breakout star

Described as the break-out star in the social media space, TikTok went from 0.7 billion visits in 2019, to 41.8 billion visits in 2023.

In 2023 a survey revealed that in the US, Generation Z women are more likely to use TikTok.

But in this study by Lifesight, men are the biggest users of the platform, globally with a distribution of male and female users at 69% and 31%, respectively. 78.35% access the platform through their mobiles, reflecting its status as a mobile-centric platform.

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On the banned list

Countries that have banned or restricted TikTok are a cocktail of first and third world countries. India banned the platform in 2020 over security concerns. The ban was made permanent in January 2021.

European Union (EU) policymaking institutions the European Parliament, European Commission and European Council banned TikTok from staff phones last year.

The 27 member states, including Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands, have also been told not to use TikTok on their work phones.

Another country that has banned TikTok is Nepal whose Minister of communications once said “been consistently used to share content that disturbs social harmony.”

The Washington Post reported that The House of Representatives in the US passed a measure in early March that could lead to the forced sale of TikTok’s ByteDance or to a nationwide ban in the United States. TikTok says it has 170 million users in the country.

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YouTube, Facebook and X still lead

Although touted as the break-out star, TikTok remains behind leading players such as Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Elon Musk’s X.

YouTube retained its position as the most visited social media platform in 2023, with a thick 1.35 trillion visits, a significant leap from its 2019 count of 263.3 billion.

Facebook which follows YouTube, has a fairly balanced user base with 66% male and 34% female users, and it has an almost even split between desktop and mobile usage.

In 2023, X garnered 112.9 billion visits, a significant jump from its 41.6 billion visits in 2019, translating to a 63.19% increase and a 2.72 multiple in growth rate.

Instagram came in fourth, tailed by Reddit and then TikTok respectively.

Year over year brought a steady increase of social media use but there was a notable surge in 2021, where visits almost doubled from the previous year to 1.20 trillion- the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic can’t be downplayed here.

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