One of the most widely used social media apps is TikTok, which is used by 20.83% of the world’s 4.8 billion internet users. The rate of growth of the app has surprised both authorities and competitors.
In just five years since its inception, TikTok has risen to the top of the global social media league and social networks, entering a group that American officials once thought to be so close to a rivalry that they brought an antitrust lawsuit against its most prominent member, Facebook.
TikTok has developed into a well-liked location for cyberbullying, just like many other social media platforms. A bipartisan commission headed by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas is presently looking into TikTok as part of their investigation into how large internet companies like ByteDance impact young people in the US.
Governments are wary of TikTok for various reasons, and one of them is national security. TikTok is a source of pride in Beijing as the first consumer-facing app from China to gain popularity in the West.
However, because the app is owned by China, other countries’ lawmakers are concerned about how tightly it is controlling their populations’ attention.
They worry that their viewing may be shaped by the Chinese company propagandists or that their personal information may fall into the wrong hands.
TikTok has already been banned in India, formerly its biggest market. The United States of America is among the nations that are deciding what to do next.
TikTok was almost prohibited in Indonesia and Bangladesh after those nations complained that it exposed their citizens to porn and boosted gambling.
The nations also demanded the removal of movies that were derogatory to their own religions or cultures. By banning TikTok, they hoped to reduce the quantity of inappropriate content their citizens were viewing.
The pressure on TikTok is increasing, as seen in some recent pronouncements and public statements, amid numerous regulatory inquiries and increased revenue concerns inside its parent company ByteDance.
That could indicate that the app will experience more issues in the future, which could worry the app’s developers who have come to rely on it for cash.
Should you really be dependent on an app that might be banned in a number of locations if these most recent worries result in further action?
Over the past few months, tensions have increased as TikTok’s communications team has become more defensive in response to specific charges and media reporting.
As seen in this tweet, TikTok claims that the claims made about its ownership are false because it is not, as claimed, owned by the same entity that has a direct connection to the CCP. This statement is in response to a recent claim made in the US Senate.
Beijing Douyin Information Service Limited, which the CCP does own a stake in, is not the owner of TikTok; rather, ByteDance is. ByteDance’s founder is Zhang Yiming.
Helo, Vigo Video, BaBe, Huoshan, and Douyin are also owned by ByteDance. Another site for short videos is Huoshan, but it differs from TikTok in the services it offers.
The divide, in this case, is not as clear-cut as TikTok would have you believe because “Beijing Douyin Information Service Limited” was only officially constituted as a corporation back in May as part of a restructuring of ByteDance’s organizational structure.
Although there has just been a name change, some have hypothesized that ByteDance split its business units in an effort to create even more of a separation between its Chinese and overseas businesses.
In terms of separating the two businesses and assuring CCP data sovereignty, TikTok’s explanation isn’t particularly convincing, which is the subject of a different report from Australian cybersecurity firm Internet 2.0, which recently discovered that TikTok collects “excessive” amounts of user data.
This includes checking the location of the device at least once every hour, continuously requesting access to contacts (even if the user initially denies such access), tracking all installed apps, and more.
Additionally, TikTok is said to be a data conduit for China, according to Internet 2.0, which has identified this via IP tracking.
TikTok has vehemently refuted these allegations: “Internet2.0 misstates the amount of data we collect. For example, we do not collect user device IMEI, SIM serial number, active subscription information, or integrated circuit card identification number, and we do not collect precise GPS location. Internet2.0 is categorically wrong to imply the IP address in its research communicates with China. The IP address is in Singapore, the network traffic doesn’t leave the region, and we‘re not unique in the amount of data we collect, which is less than many popular mobile apps.”
Such defenses are not unexpected, but it is rare for TikTok to come out so forcefully and publicly in opposition, as this has not been how it has dealt with similar concerns in the past.
Perhaps that’s just a change in strategy, but as has been noticed, there appears to be some implicit pressure on the app, which may be related to more general problems and worries about the app.
Although TikTok insists that its activities, in this case, comply with EU regulations, that it will push the envelope once further shows that pressure is mounting on the app.
As mentioned, that may also be connected to more significant difficulties the parent business ByteDance is currently facing as it evaluates its operations on several fronts.
ByteDance has been forced to lay off thousands of employees this year because of regulatory reforms in China, which have set stringent restrictions on several things, including the use of live streams, commerce, and more.
This will inevitably put TikTok under further financial strain because it hasn’t yet been able to take advantage of its prospects in the same way that its Chinese sister app, “Douyin,” did.
The majority of Douyin’s revenue comes from in-stream commerce, which TikTok is currently trying to incorporate as the next major development for the app.
The Wall Street Journal reports that American investment management firm Tiger Global has decreased its estimate of ByteDance’s value by nearly a third since earlier this year, to about $300bn.
Western audiences haven’t yet shown the same enthusiasm for live shopping, and while TikTok is expected to earn $12 billion in ad revenue this year, over three times what it did in 2021, there are worries that many creators will switch to YouTube or Meta’s apps instead because they offer more established, more streamlined revenue share options via in-stream ads.
You can see how these various issues are all adding up, and how much pressure they are putting on TikTok’s internal operations when you consider that just last month, a US FCC Commissioner called on both Apple and Google to ban TikTok from their app stores because of concerns that the app could be used as a surveillance tool by the Chinese Government.
The Global Chief Security Officer of TikTok, Roland Cloutier, recently stated that he is resigning to take on a more consultative position with the company.
There certainly seem to be some serious issues within TikTok HQ that are coming to light together, which might result in additional modifications to the app.
Could these changes signal the beginning of additional regulatory action? Could continued disputes with the Chinese government lead to the banning of TikTok in several western countries?
On that front, things are clearly not improving, and perhaps ByteDance can see where things are going, which is why it is now striving harder to refute such charges.
In any case, the most recent changes are probably not very encouraging for TikTok users and creators who are relying more and more on the app.
Although it’s uncertain, it seems like TikTok is about to undergo an important change. Do well to like, share, and comment on this informative content.