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  • Here's what would actually happen if TikTok got banned.

  • Is it ... terrifying?

  • #SaveTikTok.

  • TikTokers have been taking to TikTok to express their fears over a potential US ban.

  • Similar to India where the app was blocked in late June for cybersecurity concerns, they are worried they'll no longer have access to the fun music and video-driven app.

  • The Trump administration has indicated that it's considering similar action or at least, limiting Americans' access to the popular app.

  • With respect to Chinese apps on people's cell phones, I can assure you, the United States will get this one right too.

  • So here's why the US is concerned about TikTok on American phones.

  • TikTok is China's first global social media sensation.

  • In just a few years, it has quickly vaulted into the top app download ranks, neck and neck with other popular apps.

  • But with this kind of popularity has come increased scrutiny from Washington.

  • TikTok collect(s) everything from the device you're using to access the app, your IP address, the messages exchanged with other users on the TikTok app itself.

  • And to be very honest, that is not very different from what Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social apps are collecting.

  • The difference with TikTok is its ownership.

  • Its parent company is ByteDance, which is based in Beijing.

  • TikTok doesn't have a headquarters, although its CEO sits in Los Angeles.

  • China's legal system allows it to request user data from companies.

  • What worries foreign governments is the fact that the firewall between user data and the Chinese government is completely removed because of these laws.

  • And that means American private data might end up in the hands of the Chinese government.

  • What Beijing could do next with this trove of American data is also a concern.

  • US officials are concerned that the Chinese government could be building a vast database of information based off whatever they've gotten from TikTok users.

  • And that pool of information might be potentially used for more nefarious means, such as espionage.

  • TikTok has said that the Chinese government has never asked the company for user data and would refuse such a request.

  • The company also said its data on American users is held in servers outside of China, in the US and Singapore.

  • There are also concerns about freedom of expression.

  • Among the fun, quirky videos uploaded to TikTok every day, some users say that some videos have been censored.

  • The Journal found that in the last two years, employees at TikTok followed rules that included striking out content that was in line with censorship norms in China.

  • For example, showing tattoos or excessive cleavage and politically sensitive topics, including the Hong Kong protests or Tiananmen Square.

  • Recently, the app has been censoring other types of content too.

  • We found one US user who said she was banned from her account because she had kissed her girlfriend on the cheek.

  • And this happened during a live stream on TikTok.

  • And TikTok basically told her after that her account was banned for serious pornography.

  • TikTok said that moderation decisions are in an effort to keep the tone on the app lighthearted and not in the name of censorship.

  • TikTok isn't facing only scrutiny from the US.

  • TikTok is facing a possible ban in Australia.

  • The Dutch Data Protection Agency is launching an investigation into TikTok.

  • While pressure grows, TikTok is taking measures to distance itself from its Chinese roots.

  • There's now an American CEO at the head of TikTok.

  • His name is Kevin Mayer and he comes from Disney.

  • And ByteDance is also considering other changes to its corporate structure.

  • People familiar with the discussions tell us that ByteDance is thinking of establishing a headquarters for TikTok outside of China.

  • As the US and China clash over coronavirus, citizens' rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, the South China Sea and trade, tech has become a major sticking point.

  • And after Huawei and ZTE, TikTok has become the latest giant to be threatened by the US government.

  • And the ones who have watched particularly closely how TikTok handles the politics of the global marketplace will be its fellow Chinese tech companies.

  • What's really interesting here is that by ByteDance is arguably the most successful Chinese Internet export

  • And should the app be banned, it doesn't bode well for other Chinese companies who are seeking to go global.

Here's what would actually happen if TikTok got banned.

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The Trouble With TikTok on U.S. Phones | WSJ

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    Seraya posted on 2020/08/01
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