TikTok, a small video-sharing software that has grown to be a global social media behemoth with a vast user base of one billion, has drawn a lot of criticism, notably due to its ties to China.
After similar actions in the United States, the European Commission is the most recent organization to prohibit the app on its equipment.
So is TikTok a spying tool for Beijing, a fun app, or both?
In India in 2020, widespread protests against TikTok, which is controlled by the Chinese company ByteDance, began in earnest.
Following fatal battles on the border between the two nations, it was one of the Chinese apps blocked, with New Delhi claiming that it was safeguarding national sovereignty.
The same year, TikTok was accused of spying for China by US President Donald Trump, who also threatened a ban, a charge that has gained traction in Washington.
Although TikTok has consistently denied giving information to the Chinese government, it was compelled to acknowledge ByteDance personnel in China had accessed the data of Americans.
In an effort to allay US concerns, the business declared in June 2022 that it will only store data on US-based servers.
To “guard the institution’s data,” according to the European Commission, US federal employees were prohibited from installing the app in January.
One billion users
TikTok’s growth has not been slowed down by bans.
According to the marketing firm We Are Social, it is the sixth most popular social platform in the world with more than one billion active members.
Although it doesn’t grow as quickly as its rivals among young people, such as Meta’s long-dominant trinity of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, it nevertheless outpaces them.
According to the Wallaroo agency, between 10 and 19 years old make up over a third of TikTok users.
Last year, thanks to its quick growth, it generated more than $11 billion in advertising revenue, a threefold gain in only one year.
The continuous scrolling and short video format of TikTok were immediately imitated by other apps, although to little result.
With its robust editing tools and competitive edge, Tiktok has attracted a large number of producers and influencers while also producing many of its own.
But the algorithm is unclear, and it’s frequently charged with steering users into isolated digital content.
According to a recent Forbes article, staff of TikTok and ByteDance also manually enhance the amount of views on particular content.
According to TikTok, manual marketing only has a minimal impact on most suggested videos.
The app is frequently charged with disseminating false information, endangering users with risky “challenge” videos, and permitting pornography while being intended to forbid nudity.
The French news outlet Numerama recently reported on a TikTok “trend” that involved posting pictures of penises.
According to reports, several kids have also perished while attempting to duplicate the so-called “blackout challenge,” which has participants hold their breath until they faint.
In a survey conducted by the deception organization NewsGuard, it was discovered that about one-fifth of videos on timely topics like the Russian invasion of Ukraine were phony or deceptive.
In numerous nations in Asia and Oceania, Europe, the Middle East, and Spanish-speaking South America, TikTok pays AFP and more than a dozen fact-checking organizations to check for internal moderation films that might include inaccurate material. If AFP teams demonstrate that the information in the videos is inaccurate, TikTok will erase the videos.