Tick-tock On TikTok: More Probes, Bans On Chinese-Based Social Media Platform

Taiwan became the latest government to put TikTok under tighter scrutiny, pushing the platform on borrowed time. The self-governing island has launched an investigation into the Chinese-owned social media site on suspicion of illegally running a subsidiary.

The island government’s China-policy making Mainland Affairs Council stated Sunday that on Dec. 9, a working group under the Cabinet determined TikTok was suspected of “illegal commercial operations” in Taiwan. A local newspaper initially reported that parent company ByteDance established a subsidiary on the island to solicit business, in violation of Taiwanese law, which states that Chinese social media companies are not permitted to conduct commercial operations on the island.

“In recent years, the mainland side has used short video platforms like TikTok to carry out cognitive operations and infiltration against other countries, and there is a high risk the Chinese government is collecting users’ personal information,” the council said.

ByteDance categorically denied the claims, saying the “company has not established any legal entities in Taiwan.”

The move adds to the increasing pressure on the Chinese social media platform, particularly from the United States where at least 15 states have banned the app which was jumpstarted by South Dakota, Maryland, South Carolina, and Nebraska. There is also a bipartisan support in the Senate to have it removed from the US, and lawsuits are hurled at the site for alleged child injury.

Concerns have been raised that TikTok collects huge amounts of data on users, which is subsequently made available to the Chinese government, posing a national security danger.

READ: ByteDance Plans To Use TikTok To Surveil American Citizens — Forbes

Brendan Carr, one of the five commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission, is also calling on the US government to ban TikTok on the basis of national security.

“There simply isn’t a world in which you could come up with sufficient protection on the data that you could have sufficient confidence that it’s not finding its way back into the hands of the [Chinese Communist Party],” Carr said.

READ: FCC Commissioner Urges US Government To Ban TikTok

In a recent data analysis by Hootsuite, video-focused TikTok has recently out surpassed Facebook in terms of watch-hours spent on the platforms. In terms of advertising, the Chinese-based platform saw a huge 14.6% year-on-year increase in reported ad reach compared to Facebook declining at 8.7%.

Earlier this year, a The Washington Post piece revealed that Facebook parent Meta Platforms paid Republican consulting firm Targeted Victory to push a campaign that communicates TikTok as the “real threat” to young teens.

READ: Meta Reportedly Financed ‘Bare-Knuckle’ Campaign Against Tiktok: “From Dances To Danger”

For its part, while Taiwan has Facebook and Instagram, both owned by Meta Platforms, as the most popular sites, the government is still concerned about the reach TikTok has in the island–which it translates to the mainland China’s overreach. According to market research firms, TikTok lags behind its contemporaries in Taiwan but is gaining popularity among the millennials.

Taiwan has long claimed that China exploits social media to disseminate misinformation on the island it claims as its own.

The island passed an anti-infiltration law in 2019, as part of a multi-year campaign to counter what many in Taiwan regard as Chinese efforts to influence politics and the democratic process through illicit funding of politicians and the media, among other means.

Information for this briefing was found via Reuters, Bloomberg, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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