Culture 3 min read

Why Tik Tok Makes Silicon Valley Giants Nervous

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XanderSt /

The new social media kid on the block, Tik Tok, is making the United States and Silicon Valley nervous. But why?

Tik Tok initially launched in China as Douyin in September 2016. In 2017, a year after its inception, the makers pushed the app out globally, and it has been unstoppable since then.

Like Instagram Stories and Snapchat, Tik Tok took advantage of the popularity of short-form mobile videos. So, users can create 15-second videos that are soundtracked by music clips.

As simple as that sounds, it has become an incredibly popular concept. Tik Tok is now one of the fastest-growing apps in the world.

The app quickly became popular when it entered the U.S market in 2017, getting nearly 2.6 million unique visitors. About a year later, the number of Tik Tok users in the United States had jumped to 7.5 million.

The growth doesn’t seem to be slowing down too.

A recent comScore data from March 2019 suggests that Tik Tok’s unique visitors from the U.S. stood at 14.3 million. According to CNBC, the company raked in more than $600 million in revenue in the first quarter of 2019 alone.

Now, the app’s success is making the people in Washington and Silicon Valley nervous, and here’s why.

Tik Tok As A Possible National Security Threat?

A Chinese company called ByteDance owns Tik Tok, and this raises data privacy and censorship concerns. The congress is worried that the app makers may be censoring content that might upset the Chinese government.

For example, last month, the app banned an American user whose video criticized China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims. Although Tik Tok apologized and restored the video soon after, the act raised more questions.

Aside from censorship, the people at Washington wanted to know how a Chinese-owned company handles the data of American users. The questions become even more valid when you consider the Chinese government’s reputation for censorship and surveillance.

In a statement to NPR, a Republican state senator from Missouri, Josh Hawley said:

“A company compromised by the Chinese Communist Party knows where your children are, knows what they look like, what their voices sound like, what they’re watching, and what they share with each other.”

Meanwhile, the company says that it stores American user data in the United States and Singapore, not China.

Read More: Selling Fake Social Media Followers Now Illegal in the U.S.

Be that as it may, the political pressure on Tik Tok is not going away any time soon.

The owner of the company is set to meet with lawmakers in Washington to discuss these security concerns. Also, there’s reportedly a security review of the ByteDance’s ownership of Tik Tok.

But it’s not just the lawmakers that are worried about the rise of Tik Tok; Silicon Valley is too. And Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, appears to raise the most alarm.

According to Zuckerberg, services like WhatsApp have secure encryption and offer privacy protections. And this makes the platform ideal for protesters and activists.

On TikTok, the Chinese app growing quickly around the world, mentions of these same protests are censored, even here in the U.S,” he said. “Is that the Internet that we want?”

Tons of Chinese-owned social apps have been successful in China. However, Tik Tok is the first to break out globally.

Read More: Dead Social Media Platforms: Where are They Now?

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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