TikTok’s Future: Everything You Need to Know
I naively thought the drama with TikTok was overblown. To be fair, I still think President Trump’s threats about banning the app are overblown in comparison to what he can legally, actually do, but I should have realized that, despite more important things like a global pandemic, it was still going to dominate the news cycle for weeks on end. The will-they, won’t-they between Trump and TikTok escalated once more on Thursday when the President signed an executive order barring any “transactions” with WeChat or TikTok, two Chinese-owned apps, that takes effect in 45 days.
This 45-day benchmark was previously presented to TikTok, when Trump backed off his initial statement declaring his intention to ban the app “immediately,” instead allowing for negotiations so a U.S.-owned company like Microsoft could take TikTok out of Chinese ownership (Twitter has also reportedly expressed interest). This executive order just puts some weight behind his previously empty words.
TikTok already fired back in a statement early Friday morning, accusing Trump of issuing the order “without any due process” and with no “adherence to the law” and threatening to take the order to court. Specifically, Trump cites issues with possible misinformation campaigns on TikTok, particularly regarding COVID-19, as well as the usual fear that the app is sharing data with the Chinese government, something TikTok has denied ad nauseam.
“We have made clear that TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request,” the app’s statement reads. “In fact, we make our moderation guidelines and algorithm source code available in our Transparency Center, which is a level of accountability no peer company has committed to. We even expressed our willingness to pursue a full sale of the U.S. business to an American company.”
This comes after Trump’s comments last weekend that prompted users to start saying their goodbyes to the app, fearing it would disappear from their phones at any minute. A few days later, Instagram launched its TikTok competitor, Reels. As it stands right now, Reels is not a satisfying substitute, but Snapchat is not far behind with its own attempt at an upcoming new music feature. Not to mention all the other copycat TikTok apps that have popped up in recent months.
“We’re not going anywhere,” general manager for TikTok US Vanessa Pappas promised in a video posted on Saturday. Now perhaps that statement should be amended: TikTok isn’t going anywhere without a fight.
This post has been updated.