TikTok is a social media force—2 billion+ downloads, capable of capturing users’ attention for hours at a time, and a surveillance tool for the Chinese. Wait, what?
That last bit is up for debate. The Trump administration has moved to limit the ability of Chinese technology companies to do business in the US, most notably Huawei and ZTE. But it’s also going after TikTok because its parent company ByteDance is based in China.
While TikTok has collected the personal data of minors and censored content that is harmful to China, there’s no evidence that the Chinese government has misused the personal data of American TikTok users, and TikTok’s US execs deny any wrongdoing. The US, however, argues that it’s concerned about the potential for abuse. If China decides it wants access to ByteDance user data, ByteDance will likely have no choice but the comply.