TikTok overtakes Big Tech to become world’s most popular domain

22 Dec 2021

Image: © runrun2/Stock.adobe.com

TikTok emerged as the most popular domain in terms of internet traffic at the end of 2021, according to Cloudflare data.

As the world entered its second year living in the pandemic, more people took to the internet to meet their services, information and entertainment needs. No site has seemingly benefitted from the internet traffic surge more than TikTok, which overtook all US Big Tech companies to become the most popular domain in the second half of 2021.

Web performance tracker Cloudflare found that the social media giant owned by Chinese company ByteDance has shot up from the seventh spot last year to the first in terms of global internet traffic – a spot held by Google.com until early 2021.

Google is now in second place in Cloudflare’s list of the top 10 domains in late 2021, followed by the websites of Big Tech companies Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.

Cloudflare said that TikTok began to take the lead on days in March and retained its top spot on most days after August, including on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Netflix, YouTube, Twitter and WhatsApp took the remaining four spots on the internet traffic list – with Instagram (which was ninth late last year) out of the picture, replaced by WhatsApp. In terms of most popular chat domains, WhatsApp took the lead followed by WeChat, Signal and Telegram.

Netflix has retained its position as the world’s most visited streaming website, on some days pulling in more visitors than even Amazon and Apple. Cloudflare found that the platform’s viewership saw spikes on the weekends and in the holiday weeks of Christmas and New Year.

YouTube, second in the list of streaming websites by traffic, briefly became the world’s most visited site on 2 February. Cloudflare attributes this to a few possible reasons, but the video of a fitness instructor in Myanmar filming herself exercising while a coup unravelled behind her definitely played a role.

Also in streaming, Disney+ climbed one spot from eighth to seventh in the second half of this year, beating Sling and behind Roku, HBO Max, Hulu and Peacock.

While TikTok was obviously the most visited social media domain, it was followed by Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram in the top five spots. The next five spots remained unchanged, with Snapchat, Reddit, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Quora.

E-commerce was dominated by Amazon, with Alibaba-owned online shopping platform Taobao coming in second. A new entry in the top five for the second half of 2021 was another Chinese e-commerce domain, JD, which beat Shopify (now in sixth). US retail giants Ebay and Walmart stood at third and fourth.

In terms of all things space, NASA reigned supreme as the most visited domain in the second half of this year, followed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. Virgin Galactic got a traffic boost in July, helped by Richard Branson’s spaceflight.

In what Cloudflare calls its list of metaverse domains, Roblox beat Epic Games-owned Fortnite to take the top spot while Second Life held steady to its third position. It remains to be seen how soon Meta enters this list.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic