TikTok’s US users prepare themselves for a likely ban
New York (US) – Ty Gibson, 20, of Greensboro, North Carolina, rejected speculation last week on TikTok that his favorite video sharing platform was likely to get banned.
Users started panicking after a glitch on the service led to video views getting deleted, a measure of video popularity. Suddenly, reports about US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s threats to ban Chinese-owned apps like TikTok started seeping. Other users had started flooding the app with goodbyes already.
US lawmakers have voiced concerns about national security concerns over TikTok’s handling of user data. He said they were worried it would be needed to share data with the Chinese government.
Gibson said in an interview. “I thought it was the end. I didn’t even have time to think things through.”
He recorded his own farewell video for 4.6 million of his fans, asking them to follow him on YouTube and Facebook’s Instagram.
While TikTok’s fate in the United States is yet to be decided, the news upset its devoted user base, who are coming up with alternatives on other services. Some, like e-sports star Tyler Blevins, known more widely as Ninja, who has 4 million followers on TikTok, told his 6 million followers on Twitter that the app has already been deleted from his phone.
Loyalists are trying to hold on, for now, however, videos of themselves crying (and dancing) with hashtags such as #TikTokBan has already 212 million views and #SaveTikTok, with 315 million views on the app.
Alexander Patino, deputy director of the American Influencer Council, a trade association for social media personalities who market products online, said, “If TikTok loses consumer trust, then they lose their relevance.”
While real security questions about TikTok keep hovering, the Trump administration’s motives are primarily political, which makes it difficult to predict what the government’s decision will be. This would make it nearly impossible to fight back if it proceeds with a ban, said Justin Sherman, a nonresident fellow at think tank Atlantic Council.
“I don’t think the company could do anything to placate them,” he said.
TikTok has said it has never given user data to the Chinese government, and would not do so if asked, adding that the company has not been asked.
SPONSORS ON HOLD
Corporate sponsorship of so-called influencers has already started getting affected. One major consumer-goods brand has tried to crack a five-figure deal with a TikTok influencer on for at least two months. It did not want to be associated with negative news about the app, said Joe Gagliese, chief executive of influencer marketing agency Viral Nation, declining to name the brand.
James Lamprey, a chef with 1.2 million TikTok followers, said he has started trying to get his TikTok fans to follow him on Instagram. He said that if TikTok is banned, the impact it would have on his earnings could be huge.
RIVALS CLOSING IN
Smaller rivals like Triller, Byte and Dubsmash have witnessed downloads of their apps spike after Pompeo’s comments. Some are now proactively targeting TikTok users and rising as potential competition.
According to data from Apptopia, daily app downloads in the United States for Byte, Dubsmash, Triller and Likee have all gone up. While Dubsmash more than doubled to over 46,000 downloads on Thursday, Byte skyrocketed to over 28,000 downloads on the same day, when compared to just 3,400 the day before.
Dylan Tate, an 18-year-old TikTok user from Greenville, South Carolina with 1.2 million followers, has been promoting reasons why users should move to another platform called Byte in his recent TikTok videos, as the former gives 100% of ad revenue to its creators.
“I’ve been commenting on people’s TikToks to tell them to go to Byte. Now people are doing it themselves,” he said.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field.