TikTok makes cosmetic changes after global backlash, distances itself from China

TikTok does not want to become collateral damage

Many had preempted TikTok to be a dangerous platform quite early, when the app was yet to hit its prime. Such fears have today proven to be true, as TikTok has emerged as nothing but a political tool of the Chinese Communist Party. However, in recent times, particularly in the backdrop of global outrage against China for its obvious complacency and perhaps involvement in the COVID-19 outbreak, the app is looking at distancing itself from the Chinese regime.

According to a report by Reuters, TikTok is looking at shifting bulk of its operations out of China. TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance has for the past few months making structural changes in the operations of the app, and a major focus is on decentralization of the platform out of China. Notably, the same strategy is not specifically being applied for TikTok alone, but for ByteDance’s non China focussed businesses as well.

The organizational changes by TikTok come to fore after increasing outrage over the app’s allegiances, and its connections to the Chinese Communist Party. In what can be called a “cosmetic makeover”, ByteDance owned TikTok is looking at shifting operations to the United States, even as it is a subject of investigation back there. A particularly interesting development to have taken place in this context is the roping in of Kevin Mayer, former streaming chief at Walt Disney, as the CEO of the app, and COO of the parent company, ByteDance.

TikTok is working on a war-footing to do an image makeover for itself. With each passing day, the executives seem to be realizing that abandonment of all Chinese connotations is what will be their last resort at surviving. If not, they will be reduced to not more than collateral damage, as the world increasingly seeks accountability, and tilts in complete opposition of China. To be perceived as a “Chinese app” per se, in these times, can prove to be a disaster.

However, why wouldn’t we call TikTok a Chinese app? It is blatantly biased in favour of the CCP. Its recent censoring of anti-China content is a glaring testimony of the same. According to leaked documents, TikTok has been instructing its moderators to censor videos that mention Tibetan independence, Dalai Lama, Tiananmen Square, or Falun Gong. This is a direct assault on the free speech of all users, who are, unlike the Chinese populace, free to air their views freely on any platform. However, TikTok has been shamelessly censoring, and even suspending them at the behest of Beijing.

What is also a cause of worry for many, particularly those in the security establishment of the United States, is the fact that the data of users may directly be accessible to CCP. It is no secret that all Chinese companies lie prostrate, and owe their allegiances to the Chinese Communist Party. As such, just how secure is user data? Such fears are justified, and also go on to show how TikTok can be a national security issue for its market nations.

If security wasn’t a reason big enough, an offensive against TikTok can also be attributed to the filth which is paraded on the platform as ‘content’.  Be it “Corona Jihad” or the rape videos in India, or the video glorifying an acid attack on women, TikTok has emerged as a hub of inhumanism. It has proven to a democratic platform, ironically from China, sure. However, at what sick and perverted costs?

Needless to say, the outrage against China is immense. And TikTok is facing the impact of the same as will, for its obvious Chinese connections. The increasing aggression of China, not only economically against nations like Australia, but also its heightened sense of adventurism in South China Sea, are all boiling together to make life of TikTok executives a living hell. Not to mention the ongoing military standoff between India and China in Ladakh. This, even as the world stares at a recession caused due to a virus whose origins can be traced back to China, and some even say, to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

While TikTok might want to portray itself in the near future as more of an American app rather than a Chinese one, people have realized that it is an app working around the globe at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party. As such, its allegiances are not likely to shift, even if it shifts all of its operations to the West, under the command of an American CEO.