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TikTok fails to shake off authoritarian links to Chinese state

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July 20, 2020 at 05:52PM

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Video-sharing app continues to generate unease about its potential for harvesting user data

At first glance, TikTok is an unusual geopolitical flashpoint. The app, which offers creators a set of tools which make producing video fun and easy and in turn provides viewers with an endless stream of entertaining sub-minute clips, has more than half a billion users, with the majority aged under 30.

It is owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance, but unlike peers such as Huawei and ZTC, it has little to do with critical national infrastructure, and has so far managed to avoid the accusations of intellectual property theft and state aid which are often the first step to sanctions. If anything, with Facebook this week launching a pitch-perfect TikTok clone, Reels, the company can make a case that it is a genuine innovator, oft-followed, never beaten.

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