Data protection is becoming increasingly important as consumers demand privacy.
A global survey of downloads in 2020 shows that TikTok, a video-sharing app developed in China, has topped the list of social media providers for the first time since the study was conducted in 2018.
As concerns about personal privacy have grown, Telegram, a messaging app that can delete messages, also ranked high during a year when social media use was boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Facebook Facebook Facebook launched the international version of TikTok in 2017 and has since overtaken Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger-all of them owned by Facebook — in the number of downloads even in the US.
Some believe that the personal information transmitted to TikTok is unsafe. In 2020, former President Donald Trump called on the company to sell its operations in the United States or ban it. However, the app’s popularity grew during the pandemic, when it became the download leader in Europe, South America and the United States.
Joe Biden, Trump’s successor, has withdrawn the presidential decree, but otherwise there is uncertainty. While the Financial Times reported on Sunday that ByteDance has renewed plans to go public in the coming months, an official told Nikkei Asia on Monday that the article was “inaccurate,” insisting that the company has no current plans to list on the stock exchange.
The Chinese company Likee, a competitor of TikTok, creates short videos that many companies use for marketing, and took the eighth place in the latest world download league.
In early 2021, WhatsApp announced that it would share messaging data with Facebook regarding the interaction between users and companies. Although WhatsApp promised to protect information about communication between friends and family, some users have switched to other applications.
Countering this trend, the Telegram messaging app, originally developed in Russia but now based in Germany, has moved to seventh place. Users can configure settings to automatically delete messages after a specified period. The application was particularly popular with protesters in Hong Kong and Thailand, who wanted to act outside the state’s field of view.
Previously, users mainly focused on the convenience and ease of using free social networks, but recently privacy has become a more serious problem.
Discord, the voice calling app that moved up to seventh place, has benefited from people’s need to isolate themselves during the pandemic. The application is popular among gamers for online communication and is funded by Sony Group. Social networks have served as an impetus for increasing external investment and corporate participation.
Domestic applications dominate the Chinese market, many of which are closed. Three of the top ten in China are designed to host short videos, including Douyin, the predecessor of TikTok, which ByteDance still provides in China.
Douyin is popular for music, dancing and entertainment. Douyin Volcano Edition — also from ByteDance-provides videos from everyday life, including people falling in the street, and other incidents.
Tencent’s WeShow is dedicated to video games and includes celebrities playing games live.
Among the newcomers, Little Red Book (RED, Xiaohongshu) took the fifth place in terms of the number of downloads. It combines social networks with e-commerce, mainly cosmetics, fashion, dietary supplements and consumer goods. In China, word of mouth is very important, especially among women.
Internet networks are especially popular among Generation Z, or zoomers born in the second half of the 1990s. Soul, the number ten application, uses artificial intelligence to analyze the personality of users using psychological tests. It then matches them with others with similar profiles. The main difference from traditional matchmaking services is that people are not chosen based on the image of their face. Consumers use the app for matchmaking or just to find new friends.
Short videos have become popular in other parts of Asia as well. Snack Video, an app from the Chinese company Kuaishou, was the sixth most downloaded in the Asia-Pacific region. Its main feature is online trading-a combination of video broadcasting and online shopping. Companies used it to increase sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Line, which is especially popular in Thailand, has been pushed out of the world rankings by strong competition from new players. In Japan, however, it moved from second place to first place. Line is working on becoming a super-application by improving the payment settlement function.
During the pandemic, the Osaka Prefectural authorities used the line to reserve vaccines, and it is widely used by other local authorities in Japan to disseminate information, making it more and more part of the infrastructure of everyday life. However, it was discovered that a subcontractor in China can view the data of Japanese users, which makes security a more serious problem.
The American matchmaking app Pairs was originally developed in Japan, where it rose to the eighth place. In the face of the ongoing pandemic, it offers a remote dating feature, which was added in April 2020, so that people can maintain romantic connections from home.