TikTok announced plans this week to release features to rival Twitter, just as renewed criticism builds against it.
- The Verge reported on Monday that TikTok has added text-based updates in a move to take advantage of the ongoing chaos at Twitter.
- Designed similarly to Instagram stories, these 1,000-character limit text posts allow users to tag others, feature hashtags, add stickers and music, and swap backgrounds.
- Forbes subsequently reported Thursday that TikTok has been flooding millions of European users with ads from Chinese state media outlets.
- These articles push government propaganda regarding everything from China’s COVID lockdowns to tourism, and other domestic issues within the country.
Why It’s Important
TikTok remains one of the most popular video-sharing apps in the U.S., with more than 150 million Americans having downloaded the app. The app continues to face renewed scrutiny from the federal government over bipartisan concerns that the Chinese Communist Party is using it to steal American data—resulting in multiple state and federal governments making it illegal to use the app on government devices. The U.S. government has debated fully banning the app within the country.
The app has also faced scrutiny for its addictive and attention-altering tendencies, with recent trends like the NPC streaming trend creating concerns that the app is having a negative effect on the mental and emotional state of young users.
Backing Up A Bit
TikTok is only the most recent app to attempt to take advantage of the perceived weakness of Twitter, as multiple copycat apps have appeared in the past year, like Mastodon and Jack Dorsey’s Bluesky. Meta Platforms released its own “Twitter Killer” app, Threads, on July 5, becoming the fasted app ever to draw $100 million signups but seeing a 70% user decline over the following weeks.
Forbes has been at the forefront of investigative journalism surrounding TikTok and its connections to the Chinese government. Sources have collaborated with the publication to reveal that officials with connections to the Communist Party work in high positions within TikTok-owner ByteDance, that they have unfettered access to American data, that it is spreading Communist propaganda, and that they are using their access to spy on American journalists.
Former executives also warned Forbes that the American branch of the company has no influence over the Chinese branch’s decisions.