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Report on TikTok failing to impress federal Agencies

Each year, March marks the onset of the “season of blossom” worldwide. But, this year, as March dawned in the United States, the hay days of TikTok seemed to dusk. The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on 1st March voted in favour of a ruling that gave U.S. President Joe Biden enough power to ban the Chinese app- Tik Tok in the entire country. If undertaken, this will be the most comprehensive ban on any electronic app in American history.

report on tiktok failing to impress federal agencies

What seems to be a rushed decision by Democratic Party, the voting comes after the White House gave the official 30-day notice period to eradicate complete evidence of the existence of TikTok from all federal devices and governmental networks, like Wi-Fi. 30 out of 50 states have already complied with the orders. The wave of a ban has caught up with several universities and colleges in the process too, who now refuse to permit surfing of Tik-Tok on college campuses. This is achieved by blocking the app on the Wi-Fi servers.

The decision seems to have been influenced by the fear of China leveraging U.S. user data for spying. As per the opinion of Representative Michael McCaul, the Republican chair of the committee, anyone with the app installed on their phone is giving backdoor access to China to hack into their data.

Also, the reports of banning the most popular Chinese app in the U.S. are not floating for the first time. In 2020, similar news made headlines when Donald trump, then President, gave ByteDance- the parent company of TikTok, a request to either sell the American business of TikTok to an American firm such as Meta or face the consequences of the complete nationwide ban of the app. The claim was made under the involvement of the Chinese government in dubious spying activities and potential involvement in Corona pandemic.

But since TrumpTrumpd did not gather encouraging backup for his intended deal, the plan was lost to wither on the vine.

But now it seems that trumpTrump’sighted vision of the future has come too close to reality that the horrific dream of American privacy theft has woken up the American government from a deep slumber, shooting and banning anything everything related to China. Be it electronics, apps, or even a Chinese air balloon, America is in the full-attack mode now.

Just a few weeks back, America shot down a Chinese weather balloon flying over the territorial waters of South Carolina, US, under the suspicion of a “Chinese spy balloon”. The puzzle has not yet been solved, but it seems America is finally ready to take a giant leap.

But how will this leap impact TikTok and the American Youth? Go through this case study to find out.

Wildly popular app- TikTok has given the entire entertainment industry a complete makeover and a brand new fisheye lens that has widened the range of vision for a unified entertainment ecosystem.  

Pioneer in short-video creation, the app is available in more than 154 countries, out of which it floats at the “top 10” rank in 124 countries and among the “top 50” in 140 of them. Tik-Tok finds its root in China, and its parents in ByteDance. The ancestor of the app is the “Douyin” app, which is still used in China as the Chinese version of TikTok. TikTok as “Douyin’s successor, was launched in 2017, one year after it surfaced in the Chinese market. Tik-Tok has a separate app for the Chinese market. For the rest of the world, TikTok has one unified platform where all the users can create, upload, access and download short- fun videos.

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The number game:

Talking about the company's roots, ByteDance gathers most of its revenue from the Chinese market from the Douyin app, nearly 80 per cent of it. The rest comes from TikTok on foreign soil. America contributes to nearly 8 per cent of the revenue for ByteDance.

Delving towards some shocking numbers, over 113.3 million U.S. adults are periodically active on Tik-Tok, making it the largest market for the app. However, what is more, shocking is that these official numbers revealed by TikTok only account for users above the age of eighteen, and the teens below the age of 18 do not add to the official figures but add to the revenue and traffic generation.

As per the latest “Sensor’s tower” report, a user actively engages in the app for an average of 90 minutes daily. It mIt might not seem much compared to 24 hours in a day, but compared to its counterparts like Facebook and Snapchat, the bigger picture is set in motion. The average time of 1.5 hours daily is four folds the time spent on Snapchat, three folds to that of Twitter and twice the time devoted to Instagram and Facebook.

Will the ban plummet Chinese Revenue?

Analyzing from Tik-Tok’s point of view, the ban will devoid Tik-Tok of its largest consumer market and second largest advertisement-reaching domains. Since almost 8 per cent of the total revenue for its parent company comes from America, the revenue chart will surely splurge.

TikTok and young American Youth:  

The numbers not only pinpoint the reining supremacy of Tik-Tok among its rivals but also put forth the intertwined dependency of young adults on the platform for their entertainment and earnings.

As per research, over 100,000 influencers on TikTok rely on the platform for income. Case Biden decides to cut the strings of Tik-Tok in America, many of the Youth might lose income, and most importantly, many might fall prey to depression and anxiety, as was noted in India.

In India, the app was banned in 2020 following a territorial dispute with China. Since China and India share borders, the two are frequently seen poking each other. The same picture was set in motion in 2020 when China and India came face-to-face in Galwan Valley. The ban on all Chinese apps came a few weeks later, among which Tik-Tok was one of the total 118 banned apps.

Amid what was once considered the boldest moves of the Indian government then, the ban plummeted a significant portion of the Chinese app revenue after one of their largest consumers tossed them away overnight. But the aftermath of the app ban was equally challenging for Indian consumers, who frantically searched for alternatives for their original Chinese apps like PUBG and Shein.

A string of allegations on TikTok:

Over the short seven years of lifespan, the company has gathered profound allegations. Apart from leaking data to the Chinese government, the app has also been notorious for biased content censoring, causing mental ailments in teenagers, tracking location services of a few American citizens, and not doing enough to protect the sanity of kids on their platform.

The app has also faced treacherous waters in international markets for not censoring “explicit content” on its platform. As a result, the app has been called out many times for promoting pornography and conflict-arising content. In Bangladesh and Indonesia, the app has been blocked for pornography-related concerns, while in Azerbaijan; the app was chucked out for promoting politically biased content.

That is not it. TikTok has made it to the hit list of several other nations, too- Afghanistan, Pakistan, Canada, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Jordan, Iran and Armenia; unfortunately, while most have eradicated the app, a few nations, like Canada, have only limited the prohibition to federal devices. 

In TikTok’s defence, TikTok introduced a string of countermeasures. For Instance, the recent screen limit feature came in yesterday. To limit the screen time of young teenagers on the platform, the video streaming app introduced a screen limit of 90 minutes for teens below the adult-age threshold. After the screen time limit is reached, a screen asks for OTP. After entering the code, the screen limit will reset. For minors under 13, the passcode will be sent to parents. Introducing screen time aims to allow teens to decide to use the application consciously. 

For content sovereignty, TikTok recently unveiled a separate entity called TikTok US Data Security (USDS), which is aimed at monitoring all sorts of data related to TikTok in the United States.

Is TikTok the only app under the radar?

Although TikTok is the article's focal point, it is not the only one under the federal radar. Many other Chinese applications, operations and devices are on the wrong side of federal agencies. 

For Instance, America banned the import of Chinese Electronics into the country last year, and India banned 118 Chinese apps altogether. In addition, some campaigns have advocated discontinuing Chinese products for producing low-quality materials, territorial disputes and spreading hateful content around the internet. 

Many nations like India, the Philippines, and Vietnam have boycotted Chinese products. However, during the covid pandemic, amid the rising tensions between China and Australia, 87% of Australian people preferred local products over poor-quality Chinese goods.

Other than this, even Chinese neighbouring nations have been bitterer about maintaining a relationship with China than any other nation. 

What is China doing wrong?

China is one of the most active superpowers in the world. China is infamous for luring economically weaker nations into taking hefty loans and capturing their assets in return. Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Kenya and Myanmar are the eye-witnesses to the claim. 

Besides being notorious for capturing foreign lands, Chinese products have a reputation for manufacturing poor-quality goods with shorter life spans. 

Apart from this, frequent prying and suspicious activities keep china under the continuous radar of federal watchdogs. 

Concluding words:

TikTok as an app has commendable customer engagement and advertising strategy. Still, its inadequate content censoring, data leakage and link to China keep it on the wrong side of Federal Agencies.  

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