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TikTok’s growth has been enormous since its Chinese creators launched the app in the West, after merging it with another that had also caught on among young Americans. With that formula his fame exploded. At the end of 2021, it had 1 billion monthly active global users (today surely exceeded) and by October 2020 it had already been downloaded 2 billion times, according to the Sensor Tower digital analysis platform.

Additionally, it was positioned among the 20 most valuable brands in the world after its value skyrocketed by 215%, indicated the most recent Global 500 Ranking prepared by Brand Finance. This went from 18.7 billion dollars at the beginning of 2021 to 59 billion dollars at the beginning of 2022.

Success is gigantic. Nobody doubts it. But like everything overwhelmingly good, there is also a darker side that transcends beyond choreographed dances or funny images of animals or babies.

More than concerns about the security of users’ personal information — a topic that has been discussed a lot in the US and that was at a decisive point for the presidency of Donald Trump due to the hidden interests of ByteDance, its Chinese creator — There is the great headache that this is meaning for other platforms, such as those owned by Mark Zuckerberg.

Concern in Silicon Valley

Certainly the growth of TikTok has not yet led it to have the 2.9 billion monthly active users of Facebook or the 2.1 billion of Instagram. But the figures predict that it may exceed them. In addition, there is something that especially hits the pockets of the leading platforms in the West: money. In annual revenue alone, it obtained 4.6 billion dollars in 2021 compared to 1.9 billion in 2020, the Statista portal reflected.

As an article in The Economist cites raising this concern from Silicon Valley offices, “As TikTok sucks up users and the ad dollars that follow them, its bigger rivals are tweaking their own apps to resemble the fledgling company.”

It’s not a lie. Instagram launched the reel format some time ago just like Facebook and users realized the similarities. It is then that the sale of products, addictive content and the tentacles of China are unified under the guise of short and easy-to-consume videos.

On the other hand, by having built-in Artificial Intelligence, it is not even necessary to recommend content based on the user’s friends. All it takes is for TikTok to record your behavior pattern to bombard you with micro-videos. Such has been the addiction that it now has a “rest reminder”, just like its Chinese version Douyin. But as former employees of companies like Instagram have confessed, there is no intention to make the applications less attractive. Otherwise they would not make continuous updates. All this fast-moving technological behemoth is what keeps those running competing social networks on their toes.

Problems with national security

The preservation of national security is a topic that comes almost hand in hand when talking about TikTok, at least when the topic is touched on by politicians or technology experts. In this regard, India was the first Asian country to ban the app. It happened two years ago and involved 58 other Chinese apps.

Pakistan followed on grounds of inappropriate content. But in this particular case, there was a close relationship with customs and culture. An episode that can easily be separated from what happened in the US, where the previous administration of Donald Trump confirmed that the application “is subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services of the Chinese Communist Party.”

The company that owns ByteDance says that content regulation is done outside of China since TikTok is the western version of Douyin, but the truth is that its parent company continues to be installed in the country governed by Xi Jinping, an increasingly authoritarian and anxious president. for expanding their communist model.

So, behind the growth of TikTok there is a cocktail that touches on millionaire income, user data from around the world, politics and ideology. Because the current president Joe Biden demonstrated in his obvious diplomatic weakness that he has no interest in limiting the platform and China guarantees itself one more tentacle to extract information within territory that it considers an enemy.

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José Martí
José Martí
Nacionalista cubano, poeta, filósofo, ensayista, periodista, traductor, profesor y editor.

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