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TikTok battles on

By Justin Harper

There’s a lot of things you can do in four-and-a-half hours. Like run a marathon for starters. But TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew spent that amount of time being grilled by US politicians about his company’s social media app.

The US government is threatening to ban TikTok and other countries have expressed concerns about its Chinese owners. Specifically, they are worried about what happens to users’ data.

The US is not alone. Similar moves have been taken by the UK, Canada and the EU, while India banned the app altogether in 2020. 

When Campaign contacted TikTok for a response, a spokesman said: “These bans are based on basic misinformation about our company, and we are readily available to meet with officials to set the record straight about our ownership structure and our commitment to privacy and data security. We share a common goal with governments that are concerned about user privacy, but these bans are misguided and do nothing to further privacy or security.”

TikTok has been booming in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East. Many people in the region, from businesses to content creators, have used TikTok to gain celebrity and income. People use the short-form video platform to sell products and publicise their content.

It’s too early to say how many countries might follow America’s lead, but for now it’s business as usual in the UAE. People love TikTok and are happy to continue viewing and creating content on the app. A recent study by TikTok showed that the platform provides the highest incremental exposure to TV compared with other video platforms.

TikTok has made some changes globally. It recently announced a refresh of its community guidelines and introduced new community principles. These are aimed at helping users to better understand TikTok’s decisions about safety on the platform.

TikTok has also updated its policies to address climate misinformation. While discussions about the topic will still be allowed, the platform will ban any misinformation that “undermines well-established scientific consensus”.