Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

As 2023 begins, open up the most-downloaded charts for free apps on iOS and Google and you’ll find TikTok where it usually is: on top. The video-centric social app currently ranks No. 3 overall in both stores, trailing only a shopping app and mood diary (on Android) and a to-do app and video editor (on iOS). That video editing app is CapCut, by the way, and it is also developed by ByteDance; CapCut is an app for making TikTok videos.

Downloads are a crude metric for capturing an app’s cultural impact, but there’s no doubt that TikTok has retained its dominant position among social apps as the year begins. It’s the place where new trends are born, pop stars are minted, and young people spend a staggering share of their time.

But while…

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