Will US shut down TikTok to over 100 million users?
TikTok, the global social network -of the moment- is in the crosshairs of the United States Government, for alleged leaking and spying on the data of North American users by China. And from here the big question arises: how dangerous is the threat of shut down TikTok in the United States?
The tension has reached such a point that the United States Government have opened a criminal investigation into the parent company of TikTok, ByteDance. In fact, this Thursday TikTok CEO Shou Chew will testify before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, a hearing that gives Democrats and Republicans alike the opportunity to air their suspicions directly at the company.
In this way, the Joe Biden government gave the parent company an ultimatum: Either sell its actions and get rid of the application, or it could face a ban in the United States, where it has more than 100 million active users.
Our CEO, Ismael El Qudsi, in an interview for the American network CNN, analyzed this issue and revealed the panorama that TikTok is facing in the North American country.
How real is this threat to shut down TikTok and not let Americans be able to use this social network?
The threat doesn’t seem like it’s very real or it doesn’t seem like it’s very feasible in the short term because it’s not that easy legally and it’s not that easy even technically to shut down an app like TikTok and deny access to 140 million Americans. It’s not very easy and it seems more like a political question than a question that can really be carried out.
What solves the problem of this threat of the possibility that the Chinese government can access the information of the Americans?
Really the only thing that would solve the problem would be to sell it (TikTok) and the Chinese government would not have access. What TikTok really says is that there are other applications, such as Meta applications (Instagram or Facebook), or Google’s own applications that do the same.
The difference is that they are sponsored by the American government, a country like the United States, and not a country like China, where the government has access with impunity to Chinese data and followers.
So, what TikTok is trying, in fact, it has been working on it for a few years, in the project that is called the “Texas Project” and that is that the data servers are hosted in Texas, with an American company called Oracle and is what it says, that the data is already in the United States. What happens is that even if the data is in the United States, the Chinese Government can access it. With which, the solution is either to sell it or to block it.
How likely is it that China wants to allow such a popular and far-reaching social network to be sold?
That’s right, TikTok globally has 1000 million users, apart from what the owners of TikTok say is that there are private investors, the investor is not the government. The problem is that the government can access that data because the company is Chinese, but they are private investors, with which the United States, which always defends private property, is a bit… controversial. And that’s because it’s doing something that the United States normally accuses other countries of, which is not defending private property.
And what TikTok says is that it’s a private company and they cannot force it to sell it and then there are other voices that say that this violates the first amendment, freedom of expression, that is, any American if they blocking TikTok, they are, in some sort of way, blocking their freedom of expression, right? Because many have TikTok accounts with many followers that would be left without that audience, which is a very difficult problem to solve and that would take years. They couldn’t legally remove it tomorrow.
Is it possible for TikTok to end up accepting this possibility and losing all those thousands US users?
TikTok has 140 million North American users and it is also one of the countries with the most expensive advertising, so it is one of the countries from where the company earns the most. So it’s hard for TikTok to back down. Who would be interested in TikTok disappearing in the United States? As we said before: the Meta company, the Google company, the Snapchat company and other companies that are competitors. So TikTok is not going to give that up easily and it is clear that it is going to try to put up a fight.
How much damage has all this bad publicity done to TikTok, and in particular the fact that they say that China is entering people’s data?
The truth is that it has not lost strength. Let’s remember that TikTok in two years has become the most downloaded application in the United States or one of the most downloaded, with which the health of the application, so to speak, and of the downloads continues to be very good and continues to be an unstoppable market. Right now worldwide it has a billion users. Only in the United States 140 million users, but above all the advertising part: it is gaining more and more advertising share from other media companies, such as Google. So the truth is that this has not affected the company that much.
What is the most attractive thing that TikTok has for the user?
The truth is that it is very easy to create content, create videos without computer knowledge. Any boy or girl, any young person can create a video with music, filters, transitions, etc. And above all, you don’t have to have millions of users for your videos to be seen by millions of people. It’s not like other networks, like Instagram or Facebook, where if you don’t have millions of users, nobody sees you. On TikTok you can have zero followers and upload a video that goes viral, so it’s very attractive when it comes to generating content.
Watch here the video of Ismael El Qudsi’s interview with CNN👇
— Ismael El-Qudsi (@elqudsi) March 24, 2023