TikTok's existential crisis: What is the app's future
TikTok is facing an existential crisis. The world's most popular app is under political pressure from left, right, and center. In the US, the Joe Biden administration has threatened the app with a nationwide ban, while the UK and New Zealand have outlawed its usage on government phones. The app's Chinese connection is the problem, and that has put its future in jeopardy.
Why does this story matter?
- TikTok has over one billion monthly active users, around 140 million of which are from the US. It was downloaded 672 million times in 2022.
- The app's growing popularity has always been considered suspicious by governments around the world due to the possibility of data harvesting by the Chinese government.
- However, it has never been under such intense scrutiny.
TikTok has to split from ByteDance or get banned
The US government has been ramping up its actions against TikTok. The app now faces the threat of being banned in the country if it does not split with ByteDance, its Chinese owner. The White House's latest threat is an escalation from limited bans and pending legislation that empowers the commerce secretary to ban foreign companies that are national security threats.
UK and New Zealand banned TikTok from government devices
In December last year, the US House of Representatives ordered its staff and lawmakers to delete TikTok from their phones. Now, the UK and New Zealand have followed suit. The European Union and Canada have also banned the app from official devices. The European Parliament, European Commission, and the EU council have prohibited the app on its staff's devices.
India and Taiwan have completely banned TikTok
The US now wants to take the proceedings against TikTok to the next level. If it goes through with banning TikTok, it will join India and Taiwan as the only countries to ban the short-form video app. When India banned TikTok in June 2020, the country was ByteDance's second-largest market outside China. India ousted the app from the country, citing privacy and security reasons.
TikTok does not believe splitting from ByteDance is the solution
TikTok has repeatedly claimed that China does not have access to the data of its users. The company believes that divestiture is not the answer to US' concerns. The company is on a charm offensive to prove that its operations are transparent and accountable. It also does not want to cave into the White House's demands, as that would set a precedent.
A ban on TikTok would affect creators
A ban on TikTok in the US could open the doors for other companies such as Meta and YouTube. However, if TikTok and ByteDance accept US' condition, other countries will try the same strong-arm tactic. In the middle of this chaos are creators who have built a career on TikTok. A ban on the app would certainly hurt them financially.