The Chinese government has updated its export control rules to make it harder for companies like TikTok to sell their technology to foreign firms. On August 6th, President Trump signed an executive order which would potentially bar TikTok from doing business with American companies. Furthermore, he threatened to ban the app in America by mid-september if it wasn’t sold to a US company. Beijing’s move therefore comes as a tit for tat response to America’s policy on TikTok. It has also come amid speculation that microsoft and Oracle were offering to buy TikTok’s operations in America, Australia and New Zealand.
With a staggering 1 billion users worldwide,TikTok has become a social media platform to be reckoned with. ByteDance, its parent company, first launched the app as Douyin for the Mainland Chinese market in 2016. Later on in 2017, ByteDance relaunched it on iOS and Android for global users as ‘Tiktok’. It remained a little known app until 2018 when it merged with musical.ly. The app saw a further rise in popularity in early 2020 during the start of the COVID19 pandemic. Users flocked the platform to create goofy videos of themselves and others as a way to cope with lockdown and curfew restrictions.
Sadly for TikTok, the rise to fame came with some unwarranted negative attention from Washington. Over the past two months, It has grappled with allegations of spying for the Chinese government and violating users’ privacy. Although the company has dismissed all these allegations as baseless and political, the Trump administration maintains that it is a potential threat to US national security.
The back and forth tussle between Beijing and Washington has left the future of the company in Limbo. Furthermore, the growing tensions and mistrust between the two powers have added to the uncertainty. Although some are still hoping for a potential deal with microsoft, the platform’s future is increasingly looking dull. Its CEO, Kevin Mayer recently resigned citing frustration from the US government and the Microsoft deal which would have likely saved its operations in America has been paused.
To make matters worse for the already troubled company, Facebook recently launched Instagram Reels to compete directly with it. It’s increasingly looking like TikTok’s future is beyond its control. Other than being a privacy problem, it has taken on a political turn. It will therefore take a lot of work from the US and China to secure a future for the platform. However, whether this is likely to happen or not; all TikTok can do now is hope for the best and expect the worst.