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Will TikTok survive? New law puts popular app at risk!


Will TikTok survive?

TikTok seems to be an ever-present entity in the digital world, especially when measured in terms of 'internet time,' a concept that accelerates the perceived age of digital phenomena. However, the platform's future is now shrouded in uncertainty. It is unclear how much longer TikTok will remain operational and what changes it may undergo to continue its existence. The platform started as a niche space for teens but has become a global influencer in trends and social interactions.


Initially launched in 2017 through the merger of ByteDance's new venture with the existing app Musical.ly, TikTok has expanded dramatically. It transitioned from a platform predominantly used by adolescents to a pivotal player on the global stage, setting trends and influencing pop culture. Yet, this rapid growth and integration into Western markets have also positioned it as a potential threat to national security, according to some U.S. officials, primarily due to its roots in China and the extensive data it collects from users.



President Joe Biden's recent legislative action has placed TikTok's future in jeopardy. He signed a bill that requires ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, to divest its TikTok operations to a U.S. entity within a year or shut down its services in the U.S. This new mandate is likely to face legal challenges and it remains uncertain if ByteDance will comply with the requirements to sell.


ByteDance's origins trace back to China, where entrepreneur Zhang Yimin founded the company. It first gained prominence through Toutiao, a news aggregation app tailored for the Chinese market. This initial success paved the way for ByteDance to explore other digital media ventures.


Around the same time, entrepreneur Alex Zhu launched Musical.ly in China. This app allowed users to create and share short lip-sync videos, which became immensely popular among teenagers worldwide. After undergoing a significant redesign in 2015 that made its logo more prominent, Musical.ly reached the top of the Apple App Store, further solidifying its success.



In 2016, ByteDance introduced Douyin, a video-sharing application designed for the Chinese market. Its domestic success inspired the creation of TikTok, an international version aimed at global audiences. By November 2017, ByteDance had taken a major step by acquiring Musical.ly for $1 billion, and by mid-2018, it had fully merged Musical.ly into TikTok.


TikTok's algorithm, known for promoting addictive viewing experiences, plays a significant role in its success. It encourages users to consume a diverse array of content, from dance videos and cooking segments to various challenges that can be humorous or serious. This algorithmic encouragement of content diversity is a key factor in the app's ability to captivate and retain a global audience.


In February 2019, the impact of TikTok on popular culture was unmistakably demonstrated when Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" became viral on the platform. The song's popularity on TikTok propelled it to achieve a record-breaking run at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This event highlighted TikTok's significant influence on the music industry, showcasing its power to launch new artists into mainstream success.



Despite its cultural impact, TikTok has faced numerous challenges and controversies. In 2019, it settled federal charges in the U.S. that accused it of violating child privacy laws, agreeing to pay a $5.7 million fine. Furthermore, various reports have indicated that TikTok's content moderation practices may suppress or censor content that is politically sensitive or critical of China, raising concerns about the platform's commitment to free expression.


Political concerns about TikTok have escalated, with U.S. politicians questioning its potential as a tool for foreign influence and espionage. These concerns have led to investigations into TikTok's practices and calls for stringent regulatory actions. The Pentagon has even advised U.S. military personnel to uninstall TikTok from both personal and government-issued phones, citing national security risks.



Despite these obstacles, TikTok continues to affirm its dedication to providing a platform focused on entertainment rather than political discourse. It has undertaken various initiatives, such as hiring high-profile executives and migrating user data to servers managed by Oracle in the U.S., in efforts to mitigate the concerns raised by U.S. officials and to position itself as a compliant and secure platform.


Amidst ongoing legislative scrutiny in the U.S., TikTok's future remains precarious. Recent legislative developments aim either to ban the platform or to force its sale to a U.S. company, creating a climate of uncertainty about its operations in the U.S. These actions underscore the complex interplay between national security concerns and the global influence of digital platforms like TikTok.


27.04.2024



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