The Trump administration was set to ban TikTok, the wildly popular Chinese-owned mobile phone application, until Friday when the short-form video service was granted a two-week reprieve by the U.S. government to find an American buyer. That means TikTok will keep running on 100 million American devices.
And that’s been the administration’s worry, claiming that TikTok, “Automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users… potentially allowing China to track the locations of federal employees… conduct corporate espionage” or even “blackmail.” President-elect Biden has called the Chinese-owned app “a matter of genuine concern.” TikTok says that’s all “unfounded,” that it’s a platform for creativity and free expression. So we wanted to know if TikTok is merely a pawn in the great power rivalry between the U.S. and China, or a genuine threat.
This is TikTok. It bills itself as “the last sunny corner on the internet.” 50 million Americans spend nearly an hour each day scrolling through a never-ending parade of short videos made by other users. They may be lip-synching popular songs or performing them themselves. TikTok is a stage for preening and dancing.