Us Government Asks Google and Apple to Remove Chinese App TikTok - Will TikTok Survive Now?

Arbaz Sayed Arbaz Sayed
Jul 2, 2022 5 min read
Us Government Asks Google and Apple to Remove Chinese App TikTok - Will TikTok Survive Now?

A popular social media app, Tiktok allows its users to create, watch and share short videos that are created on mobile devices or webcams. The app has taken the digital world by storm as users create videos of different genres like pranks, games, entertainment, etc. It owes its popularity to its ease of use, high levels of engagement and addictive quality.

What is TikTok?
The Downfall of TikTok
Will Tiktok Survive in the US?

What is TikTok?

Douyin is a short-form video hosting service created and owned by a Chinese Company called ByteDance. It was originally released in September 2016.  The international version of Douyin is called Tiktok, which was launched in 2017 in most markets outside of mainland China for iOS and Android platforms. However, it was only after it merged with another Chinese social media service, Musical.ly in August 2018 that it became available for use worldwide.

Since its launch, Tiktok has rapidly grown and gained popularity in almost every part of the world. By October 2020 Tiktok was downloaded in excess of 2 billion times, making it the third fastest-growing brand of 2020.  Growing further, it became the most popular website of 2021, surpassing Google.

Top Downloaded Apps in 2021
Top Downloaded Apps in 2021

The Downfall of TikTok

Although successful and globally popular, Tiktok has had its share of controversies. Through the years, it has been subjected to bans in countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan which have cited reasons like inappropriate content.

These bans, however, were lifted within a short time as the company took proactive steps to take down offensive material as well as set up local offices to monitor and sanitize the content posted on its app.

India Banned TikTok

March 23, 2020, will always be remembered in history as the day the world literally came to a standstill.

  • China came into sharp focus as the epicentre of the dreaded COVID-19 virus.
  • India banned 59 Chinese apps including Tiktok in June 2020 citing reasons of security of the state and public and prejudicial to the sovereignty of India.
  • In January 2021 this ban was made permanent.
  • India was Tiktok’s largest market with over 200 million users just before the ban.
  • The Tiktok app was downloaded more in India than anywhere else in the world between July 2019 and June 2020.
  • In February 2021 Tiktok announced a layoff of 2000 Indian employees.

US Government planning to ban TikTok

The app's struggle first began in August 2020 with then President Donald Trump.

  • Trump signed an order to ban all Tiktok transactions in 45 days if it was not sold by ByteDance
  • Within days, Trump issued a second order giving ByteDance 90 days to sell the US portion of its business to US companies. This was done citing reasons for national security. The Trump administration was concerned over the privacy issues of the app users.
  • There were talks of Oracle and Walmart buying a stake in Tiktok. This was done to alleviate fears of the misuse of the private data of US citizens.
  • These tentative deals have been blocked by numerous court challenges and it remains uncertain.

The fight continued with the Joe Biden Administration.

  • The new administration has yet not set any new policy on the app.
  • It claims to be evaluating the risks to USA data and will deal with it decisively and effectively if required.

On June 30, 2022, Brendan Carr, one of the commissioners of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) renewed the call to remove the app from Apple and Google's App Store.  

He has written to these companies strongly advocating the removal saying,

"It is clear that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk due to its extensive data harvesting being combined with Beijing's apparently unchecked access to that sensitive data".  

The letter also refers to the numerous controversies that the app has found itself in, over the years. The ByteDance-owned Tiktok however firmly denies sharing user data with the Chinese Government.


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Will Tiktok Survive in the US?

This begs the question – Will Tiktok survive if the US succeeds in convincing Apple and Google to remove the app from its stores?

The statistics of Tiktok users

  • Tiktok has over 138 million users in the US alone.
  • The age demographic ranges from 13 to 60.
  • In terms of revenue, the app earned in excess of 500 million dollars in 2020.
  • The number of users of the app is consistently growing.  Even among the adult users.

So yes, if the USA succeeds in convincing Apple and Google to remove the app from its stores, it will certainly be detrimental to the business.

However, the app is still active and growing exponentially around the world.  The marketing of the app, although in its nascent stages, is growing in demand due to its vast audience access.  There are agencies which are eager to help brands create quirky content that garners eyeballs on Tiktok.

Brands have also joined the app by opening user accounts which are used to create and post mini-videos for promotions.  Tiktok offers them the option of promoting their videos to other users for a fee.

Tiktok also makes money from in-app purchases.

Its easy accessibility, high engagement and deep penetration in different markets globally make it the world’s most popular app ever.  It is available in more than 150 markets in 75 different languages.

Conclusion

Even if the US market shuts down for this app, the likelihood of the business shutting down is slim. The app is like a multi-headed giant that just grows a new head when an existing head is axed. Having said this, it is imperative for the app to put measures into place that ensure the user of their privacy as well as have a strict policy about the content being posted on it.

FAQs

Is the FCC banning TikTok?

Yes, the FCC has asked Google and Apple to remove the Chinese app, TikTok from their stores.

Is TikTok banned in the US?

No, TikTok is not banned in the US but might be soon banned over privacy concerns.

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