The UK banned TikTok on government phones on Friday over security worries amidst several other countries doing the same. Canada, the United States, member states of the EU, and New Zealand will ban the social media marketing app by the end of this month and we’re hearing reports of the BBC urging staff to do the same.
The Beijing-based tech conglomerate ByteDance launched in 2016 and is now available in more than 150 different countries, the social media app boasts around 1.8 billion global daily users. Yes, you read that right! To put it into context, it took Mark Zuckerberg and Co over at Facebook 14 years to achieve the numbers it took TikTok 4 years to reach. Mind-blowing right?
But where did this success come from? Firstly, it’s very accessible and user-friendly. There’s no doubting that the app has been designed to be easy to use, it’s quite easy to create short entertaining videos. It allows its users to be creative, edit and customise their own videos and express themselves in a variety of ways.
There’s no doubting that the lockdowns help all social media channels grow tenfold. With us, all seeking entertainment and new forms of social connection during isolation, TikTok’s short-form videos became a very popular way to pass the time and connect with others. TikTok provided a new platform for content creators to showcase their talents and gain a following on a new social media channel.
But according to critics, TikTok has a lot to answer for. At the end of 2022 British regulators were wanting to fine the social media app for violating the privacy of minors. In California, the app faces 80 lawsuits charging it and other social media apps with hooking kids on the site. The Biden White House is pressuring the app to improve data security, so what is next for the app?
Earlier in March the social media app announced that it will set a one-hour daily screen time limit for users under 18. Cormac Keenan, TikTok’s Head of Trust and Safety announced that “If the 60-minute limit is reached, teens will be prompted to enter a passcode in order to continue watching, requiring them to make an active decision to extend that time”.
Cabinet Officer Minister Oliver Dowden spoke on Friday announcing the banning of TikTok as a precautionary measure. He noted that there was already limited use of the social media platform across government but that it was also good cyber hygiene. He referenced the app in relation to large amounts of data being stored and accessed.
TikTok insists that it does not share the data with China, although Chinese legislation requires companies to help the Communist party when requested. The country has its own separate version of the social media app called Douyin which offers a very different experience than what is available in the West.
What does this mean for business? There’s an age-old saying that my grandmother used to use “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” and this is very true with TikTok. We’re advising our clients and business friends to be savvy when it comes to building an online following. Don’t rely on simply one channel to answer all of your marketing needs and certainly don’t rely on only one social media platform. With the click of a button, we could see the social media landscape change overnight. The US is threatening the social media app with a potential nationwide ban if owners don’t sell their ownership stake, India banned the app permanently in 2021 following an Indo-Chinese dispute, who will be next? We will of course keep you updated with any developments.