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TikTok Retains Top Spot, But Will it Last Amid Global Backlash?

Ding Yi / Jun 04, 2021 06:10 PM / Business & Tech

TikTok retained its crown as the world’s most downloaded app that isn’t a game in May, but a growing backlash in some of its overseas markets has left whether it can hold on to its crown in question.

Last month, the ByteDance-owned short video app amassed more than 80 million downloads worldwide, representing a dramatic drop from the same period of last year, when the app was downloaded more than 112 million times globally, according to a report by research firm SensorTower.

About 16% of the new downloads came from Brazil, making the Latin American country the app’s biggest download contributor for the month, followed by China, where the app goes by the name Douyin, with 12%.

The report came a week after TikTok was targeted by the European Commission, which gave it one month to respond to complaints from the EU’s consumer rights group that it accused the app of violating the bloc’s consumer laws and failing to protect minors from hidden advertising and inappropriate content.

Last month, a U.S. Senate committee unanimously approved a bill sponsored by a senator who had labeled TikTok a national security threat due to its alleged ties to Beijing. The bill would ban federal employees from downloading TikTok on government devices. Previously, several U.S. government agencies including the Transportation Security Administration had prohibited their workers from using TikTok on government devices, claiming that Beijing may use the app to spy on them.

The move casts a shadow over TikTok’s future in the U.S., where the Biden administration is still reviewing its predecessor’s policies toward Chinese-owned apps. The U.S. was TikTok’s second-largest download source from December to March, but it fell out of the app’s major download contributor list in April, according to SensorTower.

In May, Facebook claimed the title as the world’s second most downloaded non-game app, with 53 million installs, climbing two places from a year ago, according to SensorTower.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Europe Gives TikTok One Month to Answer Claims It Endangers Children

 


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