TikTok Got A US Reprieve, But Elsewhere, It’s War

Yves here. I must confess to not knowing the extent to which Tik-Tok was in hot water in other countries. This piece ties into the post earlier today by Stephen Hill on Section 230. How many social media platform users would cut back on the number of services they participated in if they had to pay even a modest monthly fee?

By Fred Dunkley is a tech analyst, writer, and seasoned investor. Originally published at SafeHaven

Former U.S. president Donald Trump failed to ban popular Chinese social media and entertainment app Tik-tok, and now it would seem the app has banned him, instead, while India on the other hand has been more successfulin its war against TikTok, banning it along with 58 other Chinese apps.

This week, India moved to extend its June ban on Chinese apps permanently after they failed to satisfy the government’s requirements related to compliance and privacy.

Indian regulators claim that the apps, Including Tencent Holdings’ WeChat and Alibaba’s UC Browser, pose a “threat to sovereignty and integrity”, while an ongoing border dispute between two countries is suspected to be the main motivation.

Neither India nor the United States are alone in their fears.

Last year, the European Union launched a probe afterconcernswere expressed over the company’s use of minors’ personal information.

Tok-tok has also been controversial in Pakistan and  Indonesia, both of which have banned the app for short periods of time. Pakistan’s ban was on grounds of “immoral” videos, while Indonesia banned Tik-tok after the app censored content critical of China.

Meanwhile, in Russia, the government has ordered Tik-tok to remove videos critical of the government and demonstrating support for opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who returned to the country after seeking asylum in Germany following an attempted poisoning by the Russian government in August.

Videos posted with hashtags supporting Navalny have gained more than 50 million combined views.

In the U.S., where the app has more than 100 million users, the former Trump administration labeled TikTok a security threat and tried to ban the service last year. In July,Trumpthreatenedto ban the app from operating in the U.S. citing national security concerns.

In August, Trump issued an executive order that would ban TikTok in the U.S. unless its operations are sold to another company by Sept. 20th.

The executive order cited national security concerns that the Chinese government could use data gathered from TikTok to “track the locations of federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail and conduct corporate espionage”. TikTok challenged the ban as unconstitutional and a violation of due process.

In September, a U.S. Judge chose to block Trump’s efforts to stop domestic users from downloading TikTok.

According to Judge Carl Nicholsof the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Trump breached his emergency economic powers when he pushed for the app’s removal.

The process of banning the app stalled in the last two months as Trump was focused on fighting his election loss. The deadline for the app sale passed, with no action taken.

While Trump failed to ban it, TikTok banned him, much as the majority of mainstream social media did.

Earlier this month, the app removed videos of Trump’s speeches to supporters around the Capitol riots. Also, all content deemed misinformation on the 2020 election results has also been taken down.

It is still unknown whether the Biden administration will follow through on its predecessors’ actions regarding the popular app. For his first 100 days in office plan, President Joe Biden is focusing on curbing the pandemic and the economic recovery, and he has had little to say so far about Chinese TikTok.

Without naming the app, the Biden administration signaled earlier this week that it would continue to “hold China accountable” on technology-related concerns.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Biden wants to approach relations with Beijing with “patience”.

“The president’s view is we need to play a better defense, which must include holding China accountable for its unfair and illegal practices and making sure that American technologies aren’t facilitating China’s military build up,” Psaki added.

Despite worldwide scrutiny of TikTok, its parent company, ByteDance, more than doubled its 2020 revenue to about $37 billion. The companyalso increasedits operating profit. The volume of the latter amounted to $ 7 billion, which is $ 3 billion more than last year.

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  1. William Hunter Duncan

    My love got a new phone and TikTok was default on it. Watching it I thought, see, the deplorables are quite creative and talented and funny when they have the means…and then a video I have not (been allowed to) seen of the “insurrectionists” entering a door of the Capital with Capital Police lining the walls of the hallway simply letting them pass, and girl was like, “you are telling me they stormed the Capital?” and I was like, how are they going to censor this?

      1. Glen

        Speaking of, I, being somewhat old and fuddy-duddy, do not have a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or TicTok accounts or presence.

        But, I have noticed that Facebook gets somehow “automagically” loaded on to my phone. I delete it. I’m still investigating how this even happens, but to date, it is my understanding that Facebook can somehow have your user data even if you have never used or registered with Facebook.

        And yes, I do consider Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all deplorable apps. I would be happy if we modernized the mission of the USPS to include providing every US citizen with email accounts, high speed Internet access, and the equivalent of Facebook. I would welcome the return of the “modern commons” to more open and accountable citizen control. Not that I think the USPS would be perfect, but it would be better than a mega corp.

    1. JohnMc

      interesting. i had a tweet bookmarked that showed this clip…now it seems to have been ‘memory-holed’.

  2. BrianM

    Although the issue of content is not irrelevant, it seems to me that sorting data privacy could solve quite a lot of the arguments. The contradiction in the US/Trump approach seemed to be that we object to that horrible foreign company (Tiktok) tracking our citizens, but its ok to for our nice US companies (F***book, Google) to do it. To be fair, China kind of takes the mirror view. If they had the courage to enact a decent privacy law and allow people to control what is tracked then it might kill some of these arguments and be good for everyone.

    At least Apple is slowly creeping in the right direction with iOS, but the pushback they are getting tells us that some parts of the tech world will fight anything tooth and nail, so I know its not easy. But do it!

    1. Cynthia

      The problem with TikTok is that it’s highly addictive. That’s true for all social media platforms, but apparently it’s even more so with regards to TikTok. Just the other day one of my nurse friends told me that she had to drop her TikTok app because she was being drawn into it, much like an alcoholic would be drawn to the bottle, so to speak. This was particularly problematic for her given that she’s both working and going to school full time. Her telling me this carries a lot of weight considering she is one of the most focused and disciplined people I know.

      Equally worse, addiction to social media lowers your productivity at work, too. It can also keep you from doing productive things in and around the house. Furthermore, it can make you more sedentary, which lead to poorer health. In other words, social media is bad all around. It’s bad for your work, your home and your health!

  3. bob

    I’ve never seen the problem with tiktok. It seems harmless. You can use it anonymously, or nearly so. It doesn’t require a real name, and sharing information about yourself isn’t pushed.

    I think that’s the problem. It takes views away from facebook. It shows that you don’t have to completely surrender all of your data in order for a company to make money.

    Facebook is probably pushing this PR. It keeps them out of the their well deserved hot seat.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Facebook is pushing it because they are coming out with their own version called ‘Reels.’ It was delayed because they had to file of the serial numbers off the tiktok app first. So they are using their strength and political connections to crush a competitor so that they can have the field all to themselves and the government having a say what appears on it and what does not.

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