Is TikTok owned by China?

TikTok’s parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance, is facing increasing scrutiny from US lawmakers and regulators. Yichuan Cao/NurFoto via Getty Images

Gen Z’s favorite short-video sharing app TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, is making history in the US as the first Chinese social media app to get Mark Zuckerberg on edge. As of September of this year, TikTok was the third most downloaded non-gaming app in the world, ahead of Facebook and Instagram, according to market research firm Sensor Tower. Cumulatively, the video sharing app has been downloaded over 1.5 billion times globally. However, contrary to being proud of its national origin, TikTok is eager to shed its Chinese identity amid rising geopolitical tension between the US and China.

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Suspicion of the United States

Many cybersecurity experts believe that the Chinese government intends TikTok as a propaganda or censorship tool or to somehow blackmail users. generation of American leaders.

For the past three years, TikTok has come under scrutiny from both Congress and the executive branch. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) opened an investigation in 2019, and Democratic and Republican senators have asked the director of national intelligence for a review of the company’s practices.

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You are the product

I’ve already written about the growing privacy problem in the age of social media. Like many previous apps and social media platforms, TikTok collects user data because users are ultimately the product, not the free app. To monetize their services, social media sites and apps collect user data such as browsing history, shopping habits, locations and other information and use this data to allow companies to target users more accurately through advertising for a fee.

The idea of ​​a foreign government exploiting private user data to spy on Americans might sound exciting, but the reality of the situation is that exchanging our data for a free app has become the norm . That the Chinese government owns a small percentage of a Chinese subsidiary of the company that owns TikTok doesn’t change that. With over 1 billion users in more than 150 countries, TikTok already has access to huge amounts of user data that people willingly give it, just like Facebook, Google and other tech giants do.

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