The trade war between China and the United States is gaining momentum. Its next victim may be TikTok, one of the most popular mobile apps in the US.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator Tom Cotton submitted a request to the US national security director. They demand the intelligence officials look into the potential security threats posed by TikTok .
It is not the first attack on the app this month. Earlier in October, Marco Rubio, another Republican senator, asked the government to initiate an investigation into TikTok. The goal is to find out if the application threatens national security and whether it helps China censor content viewed by the US users.
Rubio also calls on a US national security panel to review the legitimacy of the purchase of the US karaoke app Musical.ly. It was acquired by Bytedanche, the developer of TikTok, in 2017 for $1 billion. After that, the Chinese company combined both apps under the TikTok brand.
Earlier this month, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed concerns about political censorship on TikTok. Of course, he did. How could he have not? Zuckerberg’s company is now developing Lasso, which is in direct competition to TikTok.
How this campaign against TikTok will pan out is not yet clear. If Bytedanche, like Huawei, is included in the list of companies that pose a threat to the US national security, TikTok may disappear from the US stores.
This will deal a heavy blow to the app, but nothing critical will happen. According to DataMagic, the US market only accounts for 10 percent of TikTok downloads. Nor will it dramatically affect the advertising market. According to Appsflyer, as an ad network for video games, TikTok is not even in the US top 10.
The consequences will be much more serious if the US government demands that the acquisition of Musical.ly be cancelled. This has already happened to other social apps. In January 2018, Beijing Kunlun Tech bought gay dating app Grindr. Now the Chinese company is being forced to sell the service by 2020.
If this scenario plays out, Bytedance will incur losses due to the rushed selling of the asset. It will also have to remove an integrated solution from a functioning app.
TikTok spokespeople have already responded to the actions by the US senators. The company said that it stores data about the US users in the United States, with its backup located in Singapore.