Undoubtedly, TikTok is the fastest growing app in the world. Over the course of years, it has evolved from a platform for youth to a social medium for each age group, and the ecommerce industry has flourished, broadening its horizons thanks to it. So why has TikTok been banned in so many countries? Is the age of TikTok coming to an end? Read our article and find out more about a TikTok ban.
TikTok banned – table of contents:
- Charges against TikTok
- Douyin, that is Chinese TikTok
- TikTok banned – who will not be able to use it?
- Countries that banned TikTok
Charges against TikTok
Tiktok has always been working hard to improve the platform and develop its algorithm. It can’t be denied that TikTok’s algorithm can perfectly match content to our interests. From the very beginning, the algorithm has been suggesting content to users by obtaining data based on their interactions.
Nowadays, it has been expanded with new functionalities such as geolocation and search features. Currently, it takes only one hour for TikTok’s algorithm to closely match content to a user’s tastes, even if they’re interested in niche content. So what allegations bring the company to be banned on such a scale?
Who owns TikTok?
One issue communicated widely by the countries that banned TikTok is who actually has the power over the app and its workings. TikTok belongs to ByteDance, a Chinese organization, which is even more alarming, since according to Chinese law all companies must compulsorily share the data they hold with Beijing authorities.
Critics of the app point to China’s policies and practices like the recently introduced social credit system. As a result, China is using all apps available in the country, and all possible sources to collect data about citizens.
According to the algorithms operating both on other social media and on TikTok, content that arouses emotions is prioritized by the algorithm to be shared with a larger audience. However, in the case of TikTok, it appears that employees also are able to selectively boost specific videos of their choice.
TikTok’s information-gathering methods raise serious doubts. Do its users really know how their data is collected? In response to this question, Tiktok has been banned in a number of countries, which make it clear by their actions that they believe the app poses a high risk to privacy and security.
Another concern was the app’s built-in search bar, which is supposed to act like a keylogger. As it turns out, TikTok has a browser that can monitor users’ keystrokes. TikTok, in response to these allegations, did not deny the practice. The company pointed out that this function is not used for collecting data, but for analyzing user behavior to precisely tailor the displayed content.
Apart from observing users’ behavior and the content they are searching for, there have been suspicions that TikTok also obtains information about the equipment they are using, and even the network data such as their IP address.
Despite ByteDance’s assurances that it protects the collected data, in recent months, the news spread that yet another person alleged to have illegally accessed personal information about several American journalists, left the company.
Douyin, that is Chinese TikTok
Both Douyin and TikTok belong to ByteDance, but the Chinese version of the app is unavailable to the rest of the world. Both platforms share the same interface and AI algorithm, but have completely separate access to content.
Douyin has many more options than TikTok. The app offers such functions as searching by people’s faces to find other videos featuring the people in question, buying products, booking hotels and rating them using geotags.
The Chinese version of TikTok is not only a social networking site, but also a huge ecommerce platform where you can purchase a variety of products, book a room, and leave a hotel review.
TikTok banned – who will not be able to use it?
Banning TikTok in so many countries may raise a number of concerns for fans of the app. Since the ban on TikTok covers so many countries, will you also lose access to my favorite app? No worries, in most countries the TikTok ban encompasses only officials, or people from the state sector. Countries where TikTok has been banned for the general public include India, Indonesia and Iran, and in some of them the ban is now no longer in force.
The recent news about the TikTok ban has taken European countries by surprise, and it’s all related to the decision of the European Commission, prohibiting the use of TikTok on staff devices, which came into effect in mid-March.
Countries that banned TikTok
In the United States, agencies must remove TikTok from federal devices and systems until the end of March. When it comes to blocking the app in the US entirely, the request was rejected in the Senate at the end of March this year.
In February this year, Canada blocked the ability to use and download TikTok on all government devices, on charges that the app poses a serious threat to privacy and government security.
In March, authorities decided to immediately ban TikTok on government devices. While they emphasized that it was only a precautionary measure, they also admitted that the use of the app poses serious risks for the security of sensitive data and its use by certain platforms.
Worrying about cybersecurity, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the EU Council introduced a ban on the use of TikTok on staff devices. The decision came into force in March this year, along with the recommendation that MPs and employees also remove the app from their devices.
In 2020, India decided to completely ban TikTok and several other apps over privacy and security concerns. Despite the fact that companies had a chance to answer questions about the violations, the ban ultimately went into effect in 2021.
Apart from the above-mentioned countries, TikTok has also been banned for government devices in the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Denmark, and New Zealand. In contrast, a complete ban on the app currently applies to Iran and Afghanistan.
Although Tiktok has been banned in many countries and their number is still growing, the ban largely applies to government devices. The truth is that authorities in several countries have strong reservations about the app, but it is also a convenient tool to communicate with younger generations. In fact, the future of TikTok is uncertain. We will certainly learn what lies in store for the app in a few months.
Read also: How to sell on TikTok?