With a potential US ban of the app looming, TikTok has gone on the offensive, by publishing various accounts of how TikTok has helped US businesses, and the American economy more broadly, while it’s also meeting with key ad partners to provide them with explainers and notes, in order to dispel concerns about its potential links to the Chinese Government.
Which is unlikely to influence the US politicians and lawmakers making a decision on the app. But still, desperate times…
Over the past week, TikTok has amplified a range of stories of how the platform has helped regular Americans turn their hobbies into businesses through the app.
For some creators, TikTok isn't just an entertaining way to pass time, it is their income and an opportunity to grow in their industry. @CBSNews features creators' perspectives on how a potential TikTok ban may impact their lives: https://t.co/me9u0tgvx2— TikTokComms (@TikTokComms) March 27, 2023
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has also posted two videos to the main TikTok channel in the app, in which he calls on users for help in lobbying their local representatives to save the app.
Our CEO Shou shares his thoughts about the recent congressional hearing and everything TikTok is doing to make it a safe place to connect, create, share and learn.♬ original sound - TikTok
These measures show just how close a TikTok ban likely is, with the platform doing all that it can to address concerns, and sway opinions about the app.
Which seems somewhat counter-intuitive. If one of the key concerns about TikTok is that the Chinese Government could theoretically use it to influence people’s opinions, in an effort to shift public policy in other nations, then using it for exactly that purpose seems to, maybe, highlight that potential, as opposed to quelling it?
Either way, TikTok’s pulling out all the stops, as it scrambles to save its business, or be forced into an expensive and difficult – maybe impossible -sell-off process.
As per Digiday, TikTok’s also been meeting with key ad partners to present them with more information on the key concerns about the app.
This is part of a 5-page Q and A document that TikTok’s been providing to advertisers, which addresses a range of queries about the app.
The responses listed here are what you’ve likely read before – TikTok is under US and Singaporean management, TikTok doesn’t censor content on behalf of the CCP, China-based staff will soon be unable to access US user information. The document addresses all the key queries, but the answers on at least some elements remain unconvincing, especially in regards to Chinese staff accessing American user info, which has occurred in the past.
But is that enough for TikTok to be banned?
Look, in some applications, it makes sense for TikTok to be restricted, particularly when it comes to the devices owned by government employees and people who may, theoretically, be susceptible to coercion via TikTok data for nefarious means.
Amid rising global tensions, fueled by China’s ongoing support of Russia, and its continued aggression towards neighboring nations, there are clear concerns around exposure in this respect, and it does make sense, in that broader context, that TikTok should be limited, at least until there’s some assurance that its US data separation project (‘Project Texas’) is operative.
There is a broader question, then, around how all social apps track user data, and use that for their own purposes. Given the state of geopolitical affairs, I’m not sure that question, specifically, relates in this instance, but there is clearly a case to be made for broader regulation of user data, and how social platforms utilize such.
Either way, the decision, really, is out of our hands, with US officials now weighing their next steps on the app.