Understanding the Power & Risks of TikTok

May 19, 2023
Yimen Zhu  

Many countries around the world have been making headlines in recent months for their decisions on the use of TikTok on government-issued and personal devices. Being in-the-know about the latest social media news and government policy is key to how we support our clients every day, and we’ve been keeping our finger on the pulse of these developments to make sure we – and our clients – stay on top of these conversations. 

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of the recent TikTok developments. 

TikTok, a social media platform that allows users to create and share short videos owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has become incredibly popular over the last three years. This is especially true among younger generations such as millennials and Gen Z. In 2022, TikTok became the second-most downloaded app worldwide, experiencing an average of 600 million active users per day. In fact, a report by PowerUserCurve showed that individual users tend to spend 95 minutes every day on the TikTok platform.  

The potential issues that have emerged around TikTok have to do with user privacy and national security. This has resulted in several governments taking action to ban the app across the globe, including Canada, the U.S., Belgium, France, India and more. 


Since 2020, the TikTok ban on corporate phones has been an ongoing conversation that has generated a considerable amount of attention. Wells Fargo was one of the first companies to request its employees to remove TikTok from their phones. This decision has brought up concerns about privacy and security controls and the belief that corporate-owned devices should only be used for official company business. Since then, the outlook of banning the app on corporate phones remains in question for many organizations around the world due to the lack of information from governments regarding their decision to end the use of TikTok on their devices.  


In addition to data collection and national security risks, it is important to also recognize the other potential dangers associated with TikTok that may affect daily users and the companies that own their devices. TikTok’s End User License Agreement, for example, allows the platform to track personal data across other apps, raising further concerns about user privacy. The company’s privacy policy acknowledges sharing user data with third-party apps and even with law enforcement agencies or public authorities if required by law.  

In a report released in July 2022, it was suggested that Chinese authorities may access user device data at any time. This would particularly impact Android users, as some device permissions provide significant access to restricted data, including the app’s ability to record audio, access the user’s location, and even read and save all SMS messages. 


TikTok’s prohibition has generated a widespread debate, some arguing that it violates the right to free speech, while others argue the importance of preserving user privacy and national security. But despite the uncertainty of TikTok’s future, the platform remains a powerful social media app and marketing tool. TikTok can be an effective platform for businesses to reach a niche target market, implement influencer marketing tactics, and promote business authenticity. However, organizations should still proceed with caution and carefully manage the potential risks associated with TikTok.  

No time or resources to navigate this internally at your own organization? Don’t worry – assessing risk, protecting brand reputation and providing recommendations on how to move forward is our bread and butter at K&P. Send us a note today so we can chat about how we can help: info@kaiserpartners.com.  


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