A ban on social platforms operated by Chinese companies, including TikTok, one of the world's most popular video-sharing services, was led by U.S. leadership, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement last night. Pompeo stated in an interview with Fox that U.S. lawmakers are concerned that owner ByteDance must comply with Chinese legal requirements that effectively oblige the company to immediately hand over all user data at its disposal to the authorities at the request of the Chinese government. For a similar reason, Huawei Technologies, and since then several Chinese technology manufacturers, were banned in May last year.
The largest market for a platform used to share short video clips, especially among young people, is the United States, while for Huawei, the U.S. is a virtually non-existent market, with the company's assets taken at most by smaller telecommunications providers until the embargo. Huawei is thus adversely affected by US sanctions primarily in European markets, where the company's involvement is already considered a diplomatic issue rather than a security one.
In addition, it is an important aspect that TikTok is not present in China with its service, and in its communication and business strategy, it has always been embarrassed to keep itself as far away from Chinese roots as possible. As part of this, ByteDance announced immediately after the enactment of Chinese laws restricting Hong Kong’s autonomy that it would make its service unavailable in a city once under British rule.
However, despite all efforts in this direction, the company was unable to get the Indian government not to add TikTok to the list of 58 additional apps of Chinese origin that were banned in the country at the end of June. With this, TikTok has lost hundreds of millions of active users, the second largest market after the United States.
If the United States makes a similar decision, it could cause a serious break in the history of a service that was extremely young, released only in 2016, but has since accumulated a record. TikTok, which has collected more than 800 million active users in just over three years, has previously raised certain privacy concerns, leading to a ban on the use of the platform in some U.S. institutions and the military.
Gellert is Technology Editor at Counting News Media and contributor at other major tech publications. Her interests includes testing new gadgets and reading.