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TikTok Takes Over: Video App Overtakes Facebook to Become World's Second Largest Social Media Platform

In a remarkable demonstration of rapid growth, short-form video app TikTok has officially surpassed Facebook to become the world’s second largest social media platform by global active users. According to new data compiled in a report by Cross Circles, TikTok now boasts over 2.1 billion monthly active users worldwide as of February 2024. This puts the Chinese-owned app ahead of Facebook’s 2.098 billion users for the first time.
The shift reflects TikTok’s meteoric rise since launching internationally in 2017 and massive appeal amongst younger demographics compared to aging platforms like Facebook. It also highlights how short-form video has become the dominant way billions across the globe now spend time online.

It’s an incredible achievement that seemed nearly unfathomable just a couple years ago,” explains Chris Buckley, Managing Editor at Social Media Today. “But through its highly addictive algorithm-powered feed, viral video content and broader cultural zeitgeist moments, TikTok has tapped into what Generation Z and younger Millennials find entertaining and draws them back to scroll endlessly for hours on end.

TikTok’s growth has also attracted influencers, brands, advertisers, and stars into its ecosystem, further cementing its position. The app already has over 1 million active monthly advertisers less than three years after first launching ads, per Cross Circles data. Its ad revenues are projected to triple over the course of 2024, surging past competitors like Snapchat and Twitter.

Now second only to Facebook-owned Instagram in global users, TikTok still has plenty of room left to expand its reach even further, according to experts. Penetration remains relatively low across huge Asian markets like India and Indonesia where over 1.5 billion smartphone users have yet to download TikTok,” highlights Jia Tolentino, Social Media Analyst at Conviva. “Not to mention growing their mature Western strongholds in the U.S., across Europe and LatAm.” 

Conviva predicts global active users could surpass 2.5 billion by 2025 at current growth rates. They remain on track to hit the targeted 3 billion runrate by 2027.

Left in TikTok’s Wake

TikTok’s rapid ascent leaves stalwarts like Facebook increasingly struggling to keep up with ever-fickled social media audiences. Once the darling of Millennials in its earlier days, Facebook had seen growth stagnate heading into 2023 amidst punishing data scandals, societal backlash, and an exodus of younger users. 

Meta has raced to stave off its evaporation amongst youth by heavily investing in its copycat short-form video feature Reels across Facebook and Instagram. Mark Zuckerberg’s company continues to pour tens of billions per year into this pivot, but returns remain unclear so far. Stories and Reels now comprise over half of the time spent on Instagram by users under 30, yet existential challenges relative to TikTok linger.

And as today’s data confirms, Meta’s family of services simply isn’t matching the allure amongst Generation Z that TikTok holds in its firm grip currently. With ex-Disney executive Carolyn Everson also stepping down from her role as Meta's President this month, Zuckerberg’s quest to court back younger demographics and advertisers faces further uncertainty looking ahead.

Today marks a major inflection point in social media’s ongoing evolution. But as its meteoric second act continues to rewrite the rules, TikTok now faces rising regulatory scrutiny over its data privacy policies, along with calls for broader political accountability from policymakers in Washington. How skillfully it navigates the myriad challenges arising during these new uncharted waters may ultimately determine whether ByteDance’s video app remains on track to cement its standing as the internet’s next decade-defining platform.

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