The short-form video app’s planned departure from Hong Kong comes as various social media platforms and messaging apps including Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, Google and Twitter balk at the possibility of providing user data to Hong Kong authorities.
The social media companies say they are assessing implications of the security law, which prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in the city’s internal affairs. In the communist-ruled mainland, the foreign social media platforms are blocked by China’s “Great Firewall.”
Critics see the law as Beijing’s boldest step yet to erase the legal divide between the former British colony and the mainland’s authoritarian Communist Party system.
TikTok said in a statement that it had decided to halt operations “in light of recent events.” The company would not comment on the size of its operations in Hong Kong or any other matters.
Operated by Chinese internet giant Bytedance, TikTok has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots while striving for global appeal. It recently hired former Walt Disney executive Kevin Mayer to be its CEO.
The company has said all its data is stored in servers in the U.S. and insisted it would not remove content even if asked to do so by the Chinese government. Even so, TikTok has still been regarded as a national security risk, with U.S. secretary of state Michael Pompeo saying that it was looking at banning certain social media apps, including TikTok.
You can read up to 3 premium stories before you subscribe to Magzter GOLD
Log in, if you are already a subscriber
Get unlimited access to thousands of curated premium stories, newspapers and 5,000+ magazines
READ THE ENTIRE ISSUE