There’s a lot of buzz around the popular short-video-making app TikTok. The app from Chinese firm ByteDance was launched in an attempt to garner a global audience and kin to Chinese app Douyin and it is based in Hong Kong. It was listed as the world’s most downloaded app in the United States back in September 2018 surpassing the likes of YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and others. However, things haven’t been right with the popular app.
Back in October 2018, the app was rumored to be taking its last breath when the TikTok US handle denied the rumors and rejected the same. There have been a lot of reports claiming that the app will go down shortly. In December 2019, the app was banned by the US Army on government phones although it was allowed on personal phones by army personnel. This gave the much-needed air to the rumor that TikTok was going down and soon, many people took to the internet to discuss its closure. Then we heard that ByteDance is looking forward to a ban, however, this was again outright denied by its parent company’s spokesperson.
TikTok Banned in India
There’s more. Following the ongoing Sino-India border dispute between two highly populated countries in Asia, the Government of India banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps later last month. This included bigwigs like SHAREit, CamScanner, among others. It is subject to the loss of billions of dollars in revenue due to the ongoing ban by the Indian government.
After India, reports have flourished on the internet that Australia will also ban TikTok in the country although TikTok Australia’s head denied some claims and mentioned that these reports aren’t credible.
TikTok is exiting Hong Kong following the national security law by China
TikTok is exiting Hong Kong following the national security law imposed by China. In fact, the company will exit the city “within days”. TikTok is now run by Kevin Mayer, a former Disney executive who added that the app doesn’t store user data in China. TikTok has stated that it never abides by the requests the Chinese government makes to access users’ data and to censor content. However, with the security law imposed, the sweeping powers to the Chinese government could cause snarl in the privacy and data of the users.
According to the legislation, not abiding by the laws put up the Chinese government could land someone in life imprisonment alleging terrorism, collusion with foreign forces, secession, and subversion.
Bigwigs like Telegram, Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Facebook have already been working on the changes in their operations in the city that has been subjected to numerous protests last year. They have denied accepting any requests put up by the Hong Kong police in an attempt to assess the political environment in the city.
Every American must understand the risk from apps including @tiktok_us that are used by the Chinese Gov’t to spy on Americans.
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) July 7, 2020
Earlier on July 8th, Senator Rick Scott tweeted on its official handle about how China is spying on American’s data on TikTok that has again spread like wildfire. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a statement that they are certainly looking forward to banning Chinese apps that would include TikTok to which Kevin said that the company is led by an American CEO with many employees across different departments in the U.S.
He further added that TikTok’s priority is secure and safe app experience and they have traded or provided any user data to the Chinese government and they won’t comply even if asked.
Update 20 (September 16)
According to the latest update, after the deal revolving around TikTok and Oracle, the former’s global business has been proposed as a new U.S.-headquartered company. Oracle will have a minority stake in this new entity and will have its stake in the whole of TikTok and not just the US operations as it was earlier reported. Moreover, ByteDance which is the parent company of TikTok will have a majority stake in the company along with U.S. based investors like Walmart getting their minority stakes in the new entity. This will enable TikTok to avoid the ban on the U.S. soil without giving away entire U.S. operations. [Source]
Update as of September 22: There’s an ongoing tug of war between the U.S. government and TikTok among other parties. After the deal between TikTok and Oracle/Walmart received a preliminary okay from the Trump administration, reports have started pouring in after Trump said that they (Chinese) will have nothing and if they do, the deal won’t make it through. He added that both Oracle and Walmart will have majority shares in TikTok Global. ByteDance said that they will have 80 percent stake after opening it for IPO followed by Oracle’s 12.5% and Walmart’s 7.5%. It remains to be seen when the actual deal is signed. [Source]
Update as of October 10: After India blocked the app and the U.S. is literally trying to squash the country from its shores, Pakistan too has banned TikTok in the country on the grounds of indecent and immoral content that the app failed to censor out. This comes from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) who will review the ban until TikTok sets up a mechanism to moderate unlawful content. TikTok, on the other hand, said that they are committed to the laws of the market (Pakistan) where they offer their app. [Source]
Update as of October 14: According to the latest update, the U.S. appeals court in Washington has asked for all the briefs before November 12 with the opening brief due on Friday. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols said that they are planning to hold a hearing on November 4 whereby deciding the fate of TikTok and its transactions as the U.S. government is set to bar transactions by November 12. [Source]
Update as of October 19: After banning the popular short-video sharing app TikTok, Pakistan has lifted the ban given the promises that TikTk made to block all the accounts that involve “obscenity and immorality”. According to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), TikTok agreed to moderate accordance as per the local laws. [Source]
Update as of November 6: At this moment, the fate of TikTok in the U.S. is uncertain. U.S. presidential elections are currently undergoing and the outcome for it remains awaited. If the Trump administration rises to power in its second term after the results are announced, it is possible that TikTok will probably get banned in the country as Donald Trump has vowed to do so under the concerns of national security.
On the other hand, if somehow Trump fails and Biden rises victorious, it is quite possible that the ban will be called off. It remains to be seen what the outcome of the presidential elections are and so will be the outcome for TikTok. [Source]
Update as of November 11: Apparently, the U.S. government spearheaded by now ex-president Donald Trump has forgot about banning TikTok. The Chinese short video-making TikTok with its parent company ByteDance has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals to know what’s going on with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
CFIUS posted a deadline of November 12 when ByteDance will be unable to sell off assets in the U.S. post the deadline. However, TikTok hasn’t heard about any plan of action yet, and thus, it has asked CFIUS about the review. Moreover, TikTok has asked for a 30-day extension but the CFIUS is yet to make any decision on the extension or not. [Source]
Update as of November 23: Apparently, the Trump administration’s decision to ban TikTok, WeChat, and similar Chinese apps might ultimately succeed. This comes from the U.S> National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, a Trump aide. According to the statement delivered by O’Brien at a recent event in Hanoi, Vietnam, the apps will be banned even if the administration changes. Joe Biden has promised to review the security risks related to Chinese apps like TikTok once he assumed office on January 20 as the President of the United States. [Source]
Update as of November 26: Finally, another good news for ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok as it gets an extension on selling its U.S. business. The CFIUS granted a seven-day extension till December 4 after which TikTok could go under the hammer if the sale deeds aren’t signed. Its previous deadline was in the last week of November, however, with a week as an extension, ByteDance can finally think of possible options before closing a deal with any U.S. company. For now, Microsoft and Walmart among others are in talks with TikTok to take over its U.S. business. [Source]
Update as of December 5: There’s a new update about the US and TikTok’s fierce argument in the court. According to the update, the December 4 deadline imposed on TikTok’s parent company ByteDance didn’t go through with any of the deals yet, and thus, the deadline has passed. Apparently, the deadline won’t be extended ahead as per Brian Fung who is a CNN reporter. According to the person who knows the matter, the U.S. government won’t intervene and ban TikTok from selling its business either. Both the parties will continue to have negotiations in an open-ended manner until a resolution is met upon. CFIUS will continue to take steps to resolve the security concerns during the transactions. [Source]
Update as of December 14: U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols blocked the U.S. The Commerce Department banned TikTok downloads on both Play Store and App Store in the U.S. hours before the ban was otherwise planned to swing in action on September 27. Turns out a U.S. appeals court cited on Monday that it will hear arguments from the Trump administration on account of the judge’s block on the ban orders in the country. The appeals panel consists of Judges Robert Wilkins, Patricia Millett, and Judith Rogers nominated from the previous democratic presidents. The hearing is scheduled at 1430 GMT or 9:30 am EST and will decide the fate of the ban in action. [Source]
Update as of December 21: TikTok had its fair share of popularity in India gaining 85 million users to a whopping 167 million users from June 2018 to June 2020 respectively. As per the latest update by Financial Express, TikTok had an 85-90 percent share of the total monthly time spent on short-form content by Indians in June 2020 before the ban was placed in action on June 29. Following that, TikTok has lost over 40 percent of its share as per the stats released in October 2020.
This was a result of a countrywide ban on TikTok in India following which, apps like Moj Mitron, Roposo, MX TakaTak, Josh by Dailhunt, Chingari, and Trello have expanded their market share to 67 percent resulting in 55 billion minutes spent in October as per the report published by RedSeer. TikTok total time spend was certain to merely 80 billion minutes from its original 165 billion minutes after the ban underwent action in late June 2020. Here’s more about it.
Update as of December 29: In progress in the story, the Trump administration appeared to the federal judge’s order to block restrictions on blocking TikTok in the United States. Apparently, the administration cited national security is at risk as the Chinese government could get hold of U.S. users’ data citing TikTok’s ties with the Chinese government. However, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has refuted these claims and has maintained that it doesn’t share any data with the Chinese government at all. [Source]
Update as of January 12: TikTok had a rough 2020 as it was banned in India and the U.S. is still figuring out ways to ban the app on its soil. However, despite the ban and the buzz around its legal battle with the Trump administration, TikTok recently racked up the position of the highest-grossing app globally in 2020. According to the figures, the app made around $540 million in profit last year i.e. 2020. Tinder follows it at $513 million and this is surprising because Tinder isn’t banned or is facing issues unlike TikTok and yet, it rose.
According to Apptopia, YouTube was in second position grossing over $478 million while Disney+ and Tencent Video were in fourth and fifth positions grossing at $314 million and $300 million respectively. [Source]
Update as of January 23: India banned TikTok on June 29, 2020. It was an interim ban on apps including TikTok as it was reported to issues with the sovereignty of the nation. As per the latest update about the TikTok ban in India, the Government of India officially confirmed and has sent notice to Byte Dance, TikTok’s parent company, has confirmed that the interim ban is now confirmed and permanent. In the response, a TikTok spokesperson said that TikTok is currently evaluating the notice sent by the Government of India.
Furthermore, the spokesperson mentioned that TikTok was among the first companies to comply with the directives mentioned by the Indian government and they have tried to meet all local laws and regulations to ensure the security and privacy of the users as it is their topmost priority. We will update you once more information is available about the same. [Source]
Update as of January 27: Well, turns out TikTok is now officially banned permanently in India as per the latest update. With that, other Chinese apps that were banned last year have also been subjected to permanent bans in the country including PUBG Mobile and PUBG Mobile Lite. With that being said, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is now closing out its operations in India and after supporting odd 2,000+ employees for the period of the lockdown in the country, it has no choice but to lay those off. [Source]
Update as of February 11: According to the latest development in the TikTok ban story, the new president Joe Biden has stalled the ban on TikTok from the U.S. soil that was imposed by Donald Trump. The Trump administration and ByteDance (parent company to TikTok) have been negotiating for a long time although Trump’s executive order stated that the app will be shelved from both Google Play Store and Apple App Store. With that, Trump required the sale of TikTok’s U.S. business to any U.S. company citing that TikTok poses a national security risk owing to its ties with the Chinese government although TikTok has maintained that it doesn’t share data with the Chinese government in any way.
With the current update in place, the app won’t be banned as of now. Biden’s administration will conduct a fresh review of TikTok’s case. Till then, Biden has also declared that TikTok doesn’t require sales in the country to Oracle and Walmart. [Source]
Update as of February 13: After more than six months of being under the “banned” apps radar in India, TikTok might see a ray of hope. As per the latest report coming from Bloomberg, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is reportedly in talks with Glance to sell off its Indian operations. If that happens, this will also mean that TikTok might see a day of light. According to the report, SoftBank Group Corp which backs both TikTok’s parent company ByteDance and Glance’s parent company InMobi Pte is said to have discussed the prospect of this sale of the Indian wing. According to the person who said and who wants to remain anonymous, the discussions are still in their early stage and complex as well. It is to be seen when and how this alleged report turns out to be true or false in the future. [Source]
Update as of February 14: A few days ago, news about TikTok selling its Indian operations to its rival Glance was buzzing on the internet. Cut to now, a person who happens to have knowledge about it said that this is untrue and that TikTok isn’t selling its Indian operations to Glance. ByteDance also made it clear that it won’t discuss anything about these rumors. [Source]
Update as of February 16: According to the latest report, the plan to sell TikTok to any U.S. company (Walmart and Oracle) may not be shelved indefinitely. This comes from the latest report that states that the earlier report on Biden administration thinking to shelve the plan to sell TikTok. [Source]
Update as of March 15: It is now confirmed that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has officially blocked access to TikTok in Pakistan citing reasons that the videos uploaded on the app are detrimental to the youth and were against the norms and values set by the country. The PHC ordered blocking the app access and it was officially put on Twitter on March 15. [Source]
Update as of April 1: After more than two weeks, there’s a new update on the Pakistan banning TikTok situation. Apparently, Pakistan has lifted the ban it imposed on TikTok on the grounds of unethical and immoral content. This was confirmed by Al Jazeera thereby confirming the newly enabled TikTok app on the turf of Pakistan. [Source]
Update as of April 5: In the latest update coming from ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, the Indian government has frozen four of its accounts in Mumbai and to which, the Chinese company has raised flags marking the move as harassment and that it was done illegally. The Indian tax authorities have been probing ByteDance and its various accounts since July last year. In mid-March, the agency asked Citibank and HSBC to freeze four of the accounts of ByteDance India citing that the company is trying to seek greater tax credits. The agency found some irregularities with the financial dealings made by ByteDance and its parent company TikTok Pte in Singapore.
As of now, around 1,335 employees working at ByteDance India including those who were outsourced have not received March 2021 salaries. For now, ByteDance Indian has challenged the freeze on the bank accounts of the company. [Source]
That’s almost everything you should know about TikTok shutting down in 2020. Stay tuned for more updates.