Graphic shows historical timeline of TikTok, with statistics on its popularity.


Why the U.S. wants to ban TikTok

By Ninian Carter

August 5, 2020 - U.S. President Donald Trump wants to ban TikTok, the Chinese-made social media app known for its quirky short video clips, a move that will further damage relations between Washington and Beijing.

TikTok, a rapidly growing social media app especially popular with young people, is in danger of being banned in the United States following accusations that it is gathering data for the Chinese government.

The app is owned by ByteDance, a $100 billion Chinese multinational technology company founded in 2012 and based in Beijing.

In 2016 it launched Douyin, a Chinese short video clip sharing service, which soon expanded beyond China under the name TikTok, landing in the U.S. in August 2018.

As of April 2020, TikTok has some 800 million active users worldwide and has been downloaded two billion times from the Apple App Store and Android’s Google Play.

As the heat intensifies around the issue of distrust of Chinese technology firms, President Trump announced in July that he would ban TikTok from operating in the United States.

Distrust of Chinese firms, like Huawei, is growing – fearing that data gathered by their technology is being given to Chinese authorities who could use it in nefarious ways.

Security experts say all social media giants are hungry for data, but TikTok lacks transparency. Disconnect, a U.S. internet security firm, finds TikTok gathers an abnormal amount of data when you first open the app. In a test, during the first nine seconds, TikTok made 210 network requests to send data from a mobile device to its severs – hiding some aspects of what it was gathering.

In June, President Trump’s election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma was ruined by TikTok (and Twitter) users who coordinated a campaign to register for tickets to the event, and then did not turn up on the day – leaving large swathes of seating empty and embarrassing Trump.

Microsoft is attempting to buy the U.S. arm of TikTok in an effort to save the platform, ahead of a September 15 deadline.

PUBLISHED: 05/08/2020; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: ByteDance, Microsoft, Associated Press
Graphic News Standards