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A man opens the social media app TikTok on his cell phone, in Islamabad, Pakistan A man opens the social media app TikTok on his cell phone, in Islamabad, Pakistan, July 21, 2020 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

How Much of a Threat Is TikTok?

Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020

The wildly popular video-sharing platform TikTok and its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, have had a rough couple of months. The government of India banned TikTok in June—along with dozens of other Chinese apps—and authorities in a number of other major markets are investigating TikTok over national security and data privacy concerns. President Donald Trump said last week that he would ban the app in the United States, but then changed his mind and gave his blessing to a proposed deal in which Microsoft would buy TikTok’s operations in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

On the Trend Lines podcast this week, Samantha Hoffman and Fergus Ryan, both experts on China at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, joined WPR’s Elliot Waldman to talk about the extent to which TikTok and ByteDance could be using—and abusing—the app’s user data. They also discussed the broader issues posed by China’s stringent government oversight over its technology sector, and what lessons Western observers can take from the rapid growth of Chinese tech companies. ...

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