Oct 15, 2019

TikTok is in a precarious position due to its Chinese ownership

Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

TikTok, the short-form video sharing app owned by Chinese tech giant Bytedance, is attempting to distingush itself from its Chinese owner, but it remains caught in the escalating conflict between Washington and Beijing.

Driving the news: TikTok is bringing on outside experts, including 2 former congressmen, to take a look at its content moderation policies.

The big picture: The app insists it operates independently, but U.S. lawmakers are looking to investigate TikTok for censoring content to please China. Experts have also said TikTok could be turn into a Chinese weapon in the battle for personal data.

  • In a blog post Tuesday, TikTok said it would work with former Reps. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) and Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), among other experts, to review its content moderation policies and overall transparency.
  • "It's amazingly rewarding to know that we're bringing joy to so many — but it also brings great responsibility on our part," Vanessa Pappas, TikTok's U.S. general manager, wrote.

Go deeper: TikTok is China's next big weapon

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TikTok's rise lands it in critics' crosshairs

A TikTok logo is seen on a mobile device. Photo: Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images

As TikTok's popularity surges, the Chinese-owned karaoke app is facing rapidly rising headwinds from critics who paint it as a threat to individual users' privacy as well as a geopolitical stalking horse for Chinese interests.

The big picture: As my Axios colleague Sara Fischer reports, TikTok has now hit a milestone — among 13–16 year olds, it's more popular than Facebook.

Go deeperArrowNov 6, 2019

More younger members of Generation Z use TikTok than Facebook

Adapted from the Morning Consult's Influencer Report; Chart: Axios Visuals

More young teenagers use TikTok than Facebook, according to a new report from Morning Consult. Instagram and Snapchat still beat TikTok by wide margins, but the viral Chinese karaoke app has quickly become popular amongst Generation Z.

Why it matters: TikTok is following a familiar trajectory, beginning with beating out Facebook as a more popular app for young teens.

Go deeperArrowNov 5, 2019

Bipartisan senators request national security investigation into TikTok

Chuck Schumer (left) and Tom Cotton (right). Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) asked U.S. intelligence officials on Wednesday to determine whether TikTok, a Chinese social media app that has seen a massive spike in popularity among young people, poses any "national security risks," the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The app already has more than 110 million downloads in the United States alone, and could become a Chinese vacuum for coveted American data as tensions between the countries continue to escalate.

Go deeperArrowOct 24, 2019