Move over Google, TikTok is the world’s new most popular online destination.
The viral video app gets more hits than the American search engine, according to Cloudflare, an IT security company.
The rankings show that TikTok knocked Google off the top spot in February, March and June this year, and has held the number one position since August.
Last year Google was first, and a number of sites including TikTok, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Netflix were all in the top 10.
Cloudfare said it tracks data using its tool Cloudflare Radar, which monitors web traffic.
It is believed one of the reasons for the surge in Tiktok’s popularity is because of the Covid pandemic, as lockdowns meant people were stuck at home and looking for entertainment.
By July this year, TikTok had been downloaded more than three billion times, according to data company Sensor Tower.
The social network, which is owned by a Chinese company called Bytedance, now has more than one billion active users across the world, and that number continues to grow.
In China, to comply with the country’s censorship rules, the app is called Douyin, and runs on a different network.
Douyin was originally released in September 2016. This year, China ruled that users under the age of 14 would be limited to 40 minutes a day on the platform.
TikTok was launched internationally in 2018, after merging with another Chinese social media service, Musical.ly, an app which allowed users to share videos of themselves lip-synching to songs.
The social media platform is no stranger to controversy. In 2019, it garnered a temporary ban in India, a US counter-intelligence investigation and a record £4.3m fine after Musical.ly was found to have knowingly hosted content published by under-age users.
As one of the only internationally successful Chinese apps, politicians and regulators outside China have raised concerns about security and privacy.
Last year TikTok was forced to deny it is controlled by the Chinese government.
Theo Bertram, TikTok’s head of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said it would refuse any request from China to hand over data.
The app hosts a variety of short videos, covering genres such as comedy, dance and politics.
In the UK, the most popular creator is make-up artist @abbyroberts with 17.4 million followers.
This year @Francis.Bourgeois, with 1.6 million followers, quit his job to become a full-time trainspotter as a result of his viral videos at railway stations talking about trains and cheering them as they pass.
Food and recipe videos have become a key part of TikTok’s success, with viral clips getting millions of views.
As a result, in the US, a new food delivery service called TikTok Kitchen will launch in March, allowing people to order dishes originally created in viral videos.
The menu will be based on the app’s most viral food trends and will include courses like the baked feta pasta which was ranked the most searched dish of 2021 by Google.
TikTok Kitchen is being co-founded by Robert Earl, who owns the US food outlets Planet Hollywood, Buca di Beppo and Bertucci’s.
He said about 300 TikTok restaurants are planned across the country for the launch, with more than 1,000 expected by the end of 2022.
TikTok Kitchen will operate out of many of the restaurants belonging to the chains owned by Mr Earl.