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TikTok tops Google as the most visited website on the internet

Executive on TikTok & teens' mental health
TikTok's head of policy Michael Beckerman discusses the app and teen mental health 09:11

For the first time, TikTok had surpassed Facebook and Google as the most popular destination on the internet, according to a technology firm that tracks online activity. 

In an analysis of web traffic this year, storage software company Cloudflare found that TikTok was the most visited website and most widely used social media platform. Cloudflare's ranking is based on how much web traffic a site generated in 2021. 

Chinese startup ByteDance launched TikTok in 2016. The platform got some attention a year later when it bought rival app, and its popularity began surging in the U.S. in 2020 with notable videos including one that showed Idaho resident Nathan Apodaca skateboarding and drinking Ocean Spray cranberry juice while listening to Fleetwood Mac. 

Yet while TikTok steadily grew, the platform never rose higher than No. 7 in web traffic, according to Cloudflare. That changed in 2021.

"It was on February 17, 2021 that TikTok got the top spot for a day. Back in March, TikTok got a few more days and also in May, but it was after August 10, 2021, that TikTok took the lead on most days," Cloudflare's João Tomé and Sofia Cardita wrote in the blog post.

Cardita and Tomé said Google took over as the top website a few times in October and November, but TikTok dominated on most days  including on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. 

Rounding out the top 10 most visited internet sites in 2021, according to Cloudfare: 

2. Google
3. Facebook
4. Microsoft
5. Apple
6. Amazon
7. Netflix
8. YouTube 
9. Twitter
10. WhatsApp

After TikTok, the top 10 most visited social media platforms this year were:

2. Facebook
3. YouTube
4. Twitter
5. Instagram
6. Snapchat
7. Reddit
8. Pinterest
9. LinkedIn
10. Quora

Meta Platform's Facebook remains by far the most widely used social network, with 2.9 billion monthly active users as of September and 1.9 billion daily users, the company's regulatory filings show.

According to Cloudfare, more than 1 billion users sign on to scroll TikTok monthly, many of them children and teenagers. The platform has also quickly become integral in advancing the careers of some of today's most visible entertainers, including Lil Nas X. 

"TikTok is about entertainment and bringing joy," TikTok's head of public policy for North America Michael Beckerman told CBS Mornings in October. "You put a premium on authentic content, uplifting content. But like all entertainment, you want to watch with moderation, and we put tools in place, take-a-break video, screen time management, and tools for parents like family pairing to make sure that they can have conversations and do what's right for their family and their teenagers." 

Although TikTok has become wildly popular, like other major social media platforms, it has also sparked controversy. 

TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube execs questioned by lawmakers during hearing on protecting kids online 03:04

In October, a Tennessee school district blamed TikTok for a rash of vandalism incidents in classrooms, bathrooms and hallways. Some children also have suffered serious injuries and even died after taking on "challenges" they saw on TikTok

A TikTok representative did not respond to a request for comment.

Separately, the Trump administration banned TikTok last year because some lawmakers were concerned that the app was being used by the Chinese government to collect personal data on Americans. TikTok later said its data on Americans is stored on U.S. soil and is not shared with Chinese officials. President Joe Biden lifted Trump's ban in June.

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