Will TIKTOK be banned in the US
Is TikTok REALLY Headed for a Ban?
The social media app marketing landscape is forever evolving. As the monster players (Facebook, Instagram…) seem to remain evergreen, out of nowhere a new contender arrives and shifts the landscape altogether. The new contender in question? TikTok- owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based tech company.
With a significantly large appeal to young audiences (TikTik boasts around 524m active users worldwide), this social media app allows users to post short lip-synced videos with bold and built-in transition effects- and quenches a strong thirst for video content in the process. It has also become an ideal platform to reach a diverse audience with a wide range of ad formats aimed at users who are at the forefront of current trends. Yet as this app has evolved, so has criticism against it – ranging from child protection to a larger privacy concern that has even grabbed governmental attention. TikTok now finds itself in a strangely precarious position with a threat of being shut down in the US – but will this actually happen? It doesn’t look good, but let’s explore the facts:
Like any new popular app, regulation is not always concrete and tends to evolve as mistakes are made – TikTok seems to be no exception to this rule. Institutions were fast to pick up on the apps’s negative impact on teens. Escalation continued when the company seemed to be dogged with accusations over how it was handling moderation, with a larger amount of reports citing the app as a way for predators to solicit children and TikTok’s failure to remove them from the platform raised a public outcry.
Recognizing a potentially dangerous mix of adult and child content, the platform was forced to release parental controls in April 2020 for parents to take closer control on what content children are making and consuming.
Just as regulation and moderation of the app seemed to be improving, the app got hit by a larger threat: privacy. Stating concerns of national security, India banned TikTok in the summer of 2020, and the concern seemed to be spread to the US. There is a repeated narrative of worry coming from the US government over fears that the Chinese authorities could use the video app to spy on US citizens; this resulted in the US army and navy banning service members from downloading the app to government issued phones. The problem is no longer contained to government and now finds itself in industry as Wells Fargo barred the app from all corporate owned devices, and Amazon almost followed suit.
If banning the Chinese app was low on the governmental radar, then COVID-19 seems to have pushed it to the forefront as the Trump administration see this novel virus as a way to not only get rid of an app based on privacy concerns, but to punish a Chinese created app (alongside ‘WeChat’) due to, well, in the President’s own words ‘Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they’ve done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful.”’
Is TikTok Really Headed for a Ban?
Noone saw it coming. The ban made its way through the American legal system and on November 12th, the Department of Commerce confirmed that it would honor a preliminary injunction. Yet there seems to be unknown delays- and with the election period now well and truly over, priorities might very well be shifting. The answer becomes more unclear as the days go on, particularly as a question mark hovers over how the Biden administration will view the issue … all while TikTok keeps hard at work making changes to reassure all parties that it poses no threat. Meanwhile rivals are seeing this situation as an opportunity to expand – Snap recently announced the launch of Spotlight, a Snapchat feature that functions like TikTok and Instagram Reels and expect to roll out ads in the coming months.
The lesson here is to focus on the now. Although it has only been around for a few short years, TikTok has blown up as a major ad revenue generator and has firmly rooted itself into our social media culture. Appsflyer’s latest Performance Index recently noted a surge in TikTok ad spend, and tagged the platform as the 4th largest media source for non-gaming apps. Our UA experts have seen strong results promoting client apps to acquire new users via TikTok’s in-feed, detail page, post roll and story placements. TikTok has proven to be a strong platform to showcase apps via videos designed to increase user engagement- validated by our design teams who are seeing immense results creating engaging videos specifically for this app. Our advice? With the ban seemingly in limbo, get started on TikTok for the short term (if you are yet to do so), and watch this space (and our blog) for any future updates on this exciting platform.