The app so compromised by the Chinese government that it can’t be used by members of the U.S. military has now gone viral amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it’s planning on expanding into TV.
TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese firm directly overseen by the Chinese government, has grown exponentially during recent months. TikTok “has been downloaded more than 2 billion times globally on the App Store and Google Play,” according to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates in its coverage “TikTok Crosses 2 Billion Downloads After Best Quarter For Any App Ever.”
The same article observed that the COVID-19 pandemic was integral to the app’s astounding success in the recent financial quarter:
“Its record-breaking Q1 came during a global pandemic, leading in part to an increase in downloads, engagement, and revenue. The continuous rise of TikTok gives it an ever-bigger foundation to not only enjoy success for the short-term, but build for the long-term to keep competitors—both existing and emerging—at bay.”
TikTok has “ discussed producing a reality TV show built around its namesake video app, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans,” Bloomberg reported in its April 30 coverage. This is “part of a drive to broaden its appeal and showcase different ways of using its videos.”
The show’s actual nature is in flux, but has already attracted attention from creative teams eager to bring this project to life:
“TikTok has been approached by independent production companies with pitches, and has debated a few ideas for a show internally, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are preliminary. The company, part of Chinese technology giant ByteDance, hasn’t decided on a format, a host or which talent will be involved."
Even Big Tech is wary of TikTok’s meteoric rise. Reddit CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman blasted TikTok during a recent discussion panel at the “Social 2030” venture capital conference with other Big Tech experts, TechCrunch reported in late February. Huffman declared the app to be “fundamentally parasitic” and explained that he tells people considering the app, “Don’t install that spyware on your phone.”
TikTok has been criticized for its data vulnerabilities to the point that the U.S. military has outright banned its members from using it.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has led an ongoing crusade against TikTok, and reportedly proposed legislation to ban federal workers from using it on their government-issued devices. Hawley also blasted the platform at a hearing and warned that “A company compromised by the Chinese communist party knows where your children are, knows what they look like, what their voices sound like, what they’re watching and what they share with each other.”
Even Parkland anti-gun activist David Hogg has called for people to "#CancelTikTok" via Twitter. He reportedly said that the app should “only be used to call out the Chinese government... for their atrocities and human rights abuses."