If you’ve scrolled through Twitter or turned on the news, you’ve likely heard about the impending TikTok ban in the United States. TikTok exploded in popularity this year with over 2 billion downloads worldwide, but what is the app? Who is using it? What are the security concerns, and why is Microsoft interested in purchasing it? In this article, we break down the answers to all of these questions.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a mobile application that allows users to create and share short videos, typically with music in the background. Originally launched as Musical.ly in the United States, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, merged it with China’s Douyin in late 2017. Since the acquisition, the app has been downloaded over 2 billion times in the App Store and Google Play and has amassed over 800 million active users worldwide. With more than 1 million videos viewed every day, it is very quickly becoming a rival to YouTube and Instagram.

Who is using the app?

The app’s main demographic is primarily comprised of “Gen Z” users, which includes individuals born between 1995 and 2015. The majority of users are located in India (611 million). Followed by 200 million in China and 165 million users in the United States.

What are the security concerns?

TikTok is owned by the Chinese technology company, ByteDance. The chief worry is that ByteDance will share TikTok’s data with the Chinese government based on the country’s strict national security laws. TikTok confirmed that they store American user data on US-based servers, but skeptics argue that TikTok is still ultimately a Chinese business, and the data will be misused.

Why Does Microsoft want TikTok?

According to a Microsoft blog, they confirmed their intent to explore the purchase of TikTok in the United States. A key benefit of any TikTok deal will be the data and 100 million American users Microsoft would gain access to. In return, Microsoft will ensure enhanced security, transparency, and the transfer of American users’ data to the United States. TikTok is already a major competitor for Facebook. Instagram launched its own competitive version of TikTok, Instagram Reels, just last week.

In the weeks ahead, we will continue to see coverage of the potential TikTok purchase with estimates as high as $50 billion and see more businesses having preliminary discussions on acquisition including a Twitter and TikTok combination.