Hunted Chinese video-sharing app TikTok again made the world’s most-downloaded non-gaming app of September.
According to a report by research firm SensorTower, TikTok was installed more than 61.1 million times last month, up 2% from September 2019. That includes the installs of its Chinese version, Douyin. The country with the most downloads was Brazil, at 11% of global installs; the United States came next, with 9% of the share, according to the report.
After the ByteDance-owned app, Zoom (Nasdaq: ZM) ranked second, Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) and its affiliate WhatsApp were in third and fourth positions among all downloads. Zoom, another of this year’s phenomena, scored nearly 55 million installs – a whopping 21.4 times the number of a year ago.
Meanwhile, yet another country has acted against TikTok. Pakistan said it found videos on the app to be “immoral and indecent” and banned it from app stores. That followed a “final warning” to the video-sharing platform in July on the claims that it negatively impacts youth and society in general. The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority said at the time that it urged to “moderate the socialization and content within legal and moral limits.” Apparently, TikTok failed to comply, as the regulator said in a statement Friday. It cited a “number of complaints” which it said it has received from the public.
Perhaps the fact that TikTok is getting banned here and there attributed to its popularity. If you want to spike the public’s curiosity about a product and make them pay attention, just threaten to ban it from the market altogether. And who would know better about this concept than the populist president Donald Trump, who seized the initiative from New Delhi in July.
Indeed, this time, Trump wasn’t the first to target the massively popular Chinese platform. Citing all too-familiar national security concerns, India kicked out TikTok (and a slew of other China-based or -backed apps) from its largest market on June 29. The Slate’s Nitish Pahwa called the move no less than a “tragedy.” The reporter said TikTok offered its Indian users “an escape from a repressive government and a brutal pandemic.” Earlier, TikTok took down millions of videos in attempt to ease New Delhi’s concerns over content; it also denied sharing user data with Beijing and vowed to cooperate with the country’s laws, but to no avail. That was about 200 million monthly users down.
In the United States, TikTok recently won the support of a federal judge, Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who has questioned the Trump administration’s ban, requesting evidence from the defendants that TikTok shares user data with Beijing. The Commerce Department then temporarily delayed the ban thanks to Trump’s green light on a deal with Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) and Walmart (NYSE: WMT).
Another massively popular Chinese app under threat from the Trump administration, WeChat, got a similar court ruling. U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler issued a preliminary injunction blocking the ban on the day it was set to go into effect. SensorTower showed that on the weekend of the scheduled ban, WeChat saw an 800% week-over-week increase in downloads on U.S. phones. In August, the Tencent-operated app, which is an all-in-one type of platform unlike anything in the U.S. market, counted 19 million daily active users in the U.S., Reuters reported.
However, TikTok could still lose its more than 100 million U.S. users. The deal with Oracle and Walmart is hanging in the air, with sides bickering over technology and data control. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports, the Trump administration is appealing the court rulings on both TikTok and WeChat.