Hey, what’s up, guys? This is Brand Breakdown, and I’m your host, Matt Young. Brand Breakdown is a show where we take a company, breakdown its brand perception, and paint a picture of how people came to perceive it that way. If you want us to review your brand, drop a comment or email me at


Today’s brand is none other than TikTok, the social media platform based on videos of 60 seconds or less paired with sounds that facilitate content creation by many users. It was originally started back in 2016 by its parent company, ByteDance, and it bought out in 2017. That’s when it really started to take off.

Even today, TikTok is still known as “an app for kids,” and you might agree if you learned that 63% of users are under the age of 30 according to Statista. For those of us old enough to remember, Facebook also started out as a platform for young adults, specifically targeting college students. Personally, I made my Facebook when I was 13, and today people know Facebook as the place where grandparents go to complain about politics and share pictures of their grandkids.

Likewise, I think you’ll be surprised by how fast TikTok will age up. Think about why older people got on Facebook in the first place: because they wanted to see what their kids were doing online. With all the attention TikTok is getting and how much easier content creation is, don’t you think parents will eventually catch on and want to start checking up on their kids?

The largest TikTok account at the moment is Charli D’Amelio with over 53M followers. Her brand is built primarily on TikTok, which has also led to such sponsorships like appearing in the Sabra super bowl commercial in February of 2020. 

TikTok Scandals

Since TikTok’s biggest star is only 16 years old, it’s even more concerning that TikTok just settled on a $1.1M class action lawsuit for violating child privacy laws without admitting wrongdoing, but then they were fined another $5.7M by the FTC. Children under the age of 13 are protected by something called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, otherwise known as COPPA.

TikTok is also taking heat for releasing a memo that explicitly states that “ugly” people should be kept off the For You Page. They identify such attributes as “abnormal body shape,” “ugly facial looks,” “dwarfism,” “obvious beer belly,” “too many wrinkles,” “eye disorders,” and more. 

We already know that TikTok is picky about the type of people they’re willing to put on the For You Page, but did you know that they also censor political speech? Their specific policy states that you cannot discuss the “defamation, spoofing, or criticism towards civil servants, political or religious leaders, such as the heads of the Eastern and Western countries in various dynasties, senior officials, and the families of related leaders, police, soldiers and other officers.”

How Big Is TikTok?

Scandals aside, TikTok is officially one of the largest social media platforms in the world with 800 million monthly active users. To put this in perspective, Twitter only has 330 million monthly active users. Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users, and Facebook has roughly 2.5 billion monthly active users.

TikTok’s advertising system is very selective. We started going through the process ourselves where we had to fill out a form, wait a few days for someone to get back to us, and then they requested more information over email. With so many people fighting for attention, it’s no wonder they get to pick and choose whose money they want to take.


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