My name is Sarah Bedford, I am 25 years old, I have two master’s degrees, and I am obsessed with TikTok. 

I said it, I can’t take it back. An application most popular with teenagers has consumed far too much of my off time. 

You can catch me doing a poor rendition of the dance to Jason Derulo’s “Savage Love” and cackling over a talking pitbull named Tatum. But why is TikTok so popular? And what in the world is going on with China over this video app? Will TikTok disappear? Well buckle up, sister (and brother), we’re about to go on a wild ride.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is the leading platform for short-form mobile video with an estimated 800 million users monthly. With offices in Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Dubai, Mumbai, Singapore, Jakarta, Seoul, and Tokyo, Tik Tok has taken over the internet scene with more than 1 million views each day on uploaded content. A truly global phenomenon, TikTok is available in 155 countries, and in 75 languages, with users around the world creating videos between 15 seconds to one minute long.

A rather young app, ByteDance, a Beijing-based internet technology company, first launched Douyin for the China market in September 2016. However, they wanted to be worldwide. In 2017, TikTok was launched for iOS and Android in most markets outside of China but was not available globally. Then in a merger with the app, TikTok became available worldwide on August 2, 2018.

If you’re looking to begin your own TikTok account, HubSpot offers a great how-to guide on getting started with your video content. But we must warn you, as lucrative as TikTok may seem right now with all these potential consumers at your fingertips, there are a few things you need to know.

What’s The Deal with China & Information Sharing?

If you’ve paid any attention to tech news in the last few weeks and months, you may be vaguely aware of the privacy drama between the United States and China with TikTok users. 

While we pride ourselves on being a bit more technologically literate, there is still a lot of room for growth on privacy issues when it comes to social media. Currently, TikTok is banned by users employed by certain companies and within some branches of the U.S. military

But why? TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is based in China where right now, there are fears that the company is or may be sharing user data with the Chinese government via data requests and surveillance software.

While that is part of the privacy concern, the growing concern stems from the amount of data TikTok takes from users. In theory, the app can track where you are. In addition, the flimsy coding on the back end of TikTok has led to worries of privacy and security breaches. 

In January 2020, a security error was found which could lead to an attacker gaining control of someone’s account, deleting videos, uploading unauthorized videos, and revealing a user’s personal information.

While these are legitimate concerns to an extent as TikTok does collect quite a bit of personal data to create an account, users must give permission to the app to utilize location, audio and camera recordings, and contacts. Because this is more information than Facebook and Twitter request, many users are raising an eyebrow.

Unlike many U.S. tech companies that boast privacy settings and control, China has a history of enticing companies to share personal information from users. Records show that ByteDance has provided information to police in Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwest China which is home to many ethnic minority groups.

A 2019 report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) shows that forces in Beijing are accused of detaining an estimated 1 million people belonging to religious minorities in re-education camps and prisons.

Though TikTok has denied such allegations, the Chinese government has since distanced itself from ByteDance who named a former Disney executive a chief executive officer in May of this year.

Not only is this a problem, but app data from TikTok has been traced to servers hosted by Alibaba, who has a history of security breaches as it shares user data with third parties explicitly listed in its privacy policy. And, because it is under Chinese jurisdiction, it is more likely to be subject to data requests by the government.

Hmm, that doesn’t sound good. But what if I want to use it anyway?

At the time of this blog, TikTok is still available in the United States. But user beware, if you work for one of the following companies, or live in any of these countries or regions, you may be told to delete the app.

  • Wells Fargo
  • Amazon (however, they have since made some concessions)
  • Various U.S. Military Branches
  • India
  • US Department of Homeland Security
  • TSA
  • The Democratic and Republican National Committees

But I need dancing dog videos and TikTok recipes! What can I do?

I know, I’m feeling the same way. But have no fear–Instagram is here! Next month, Instagram is set to release a competitor to TikTok–Instagram Reels.

According to Search Engine Journal, this new update to the Instagram app will feature many features as TikTok (minus all the scary security stuff) including:

  • 15-second videos
  • Add personal audio to videos or choose from a catalog of licensed music.
  • Utilize original audio from other videos and add them to their own uploads
  • Popular clips will be added to a “Featured Reels” section on the app

So while we still have a few weeks before we can get our creativity flowing on Instagram Reels, know that in due time, a safer option to video creation will be available.

And if you have questions about what social media is on the rise in your industry, contact the professionals at ENX2 today– we promise we won’t lead you astray!

Get Social Safely with ENX2!

In need of a stellar digital marketing agency that is on top of the social media trends in your industry? You’ve come to the right place. Contact ENX2 Marketing today!