TikTok is one of the largest and most popular social media websites out there. It is incredibly popular in many countries, and in 2021, it was even visited more times on the web than Google.
However, it has been the subject of controversy as the government has suggested that it may pose security risks due to its associations with China.
So, is TikTok owned by China? Well, it is owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance. TikTok is simply an international version of the Chinese app called Douyin, which was released in 2016. TikTok was then launched in 2017 and became available worldwide in 2018 after merging with Musical.ly.
The rest of this article is going to go into detail about China’s ownership of TikTok, what that means for international users, and whether the app TikTok is the same as the Chinese equivalent, Douyin.
Table of Contents
Is TikTok owned by China?
TikTok is owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance. It is the international iteration of a Chinese app called Douyin, which is essentially just like TikTok, but only for users in China.
Each app is available to a different demographic. Douyin only has a few extra features from TikTok.
So, the app TikTok is not owned by the country of China, but simply by a company based in China. This is the company which created TikTok following Douyin in 2016.
Does the Chinese government own ByteDance?
The Chinese government does not own ByteDance, but they do have a stake in the company. Their stake in the company is small, however, only 1%.
The original owner and founder of ByteDance is named Zhang Yiming. He owns approximately 22% of the company and his net worth is over 50 billion dollars.
While he is no longer the CEO of ByteDance, he remains the owner of the largest percentage of the company—certainly more so than the Chinese government.
Has TikTok always been owned by China?
TikTok has always been owned by ByteDance. They are the original founding company of the app, and the app has not been sold since its creation, although there have been many close calls (including by companies like Microsoft and Oracle).
As for the Chinese government’s stake in TikTok, they have not always been partial owners of the company. They only gained their stake in 2021.
Although their stake is still small (remember, it is only 1% ownership) they do have more influence over the company’s decision making than you might imagine.
The Chinese government controls one out of the three seats on ByteDance’s board of directors.
This means that even though their ownership of the company is not very large, they still have some direct control over the decisions that ByteDance makes.
This should not be surprising, considering that China has always had a high level of social media censorship and control.
Is China spying on me through TikTok?
When the general public started to realize that TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, there was a high level of panic.
This was inspired in part by the President of the United States at the time, Donald Trump. He wanted to ban TikTok in the United States, and many people believed that the Chinese government was spying on them through TikTok.
While TikTok does collect some personal information, it is no more than any other social media app collects. Other social media platforms, including Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, collect some of your personal information.
However, this is not for any bad reasons—they use this information to provide you with the best possible user experience.
This is why your TikTok “For You Page” is so specifically tailored to your interests: because TikTok is collecting information on what you like to watch. However, you are not being spied on by the Chinese government.
Despite this, TikTok is still banned in some places.
Where is TikTok banned?
The only country that has successfully completely banned TikTok is India. By 2021, they had completely shut down all access to TikTok following border conflicts against China.
Other countries have attempted to ban TikTok, however. Pakistan has both banned and then unbanned TikTok multiple times, beginning in October 2020.
Both Bangladesh and Indonesia have almost banned TikTok due to claims that it was exposing people to pornography. In all three of these countries, TikTok has avoided permanent bans by working with the countries to regulate the app better.
Is TikTok going to be banned in the USA?
No. Although the former President Donald Trump wanted to ban TikTok, the current President Joe Biden and his own administrative team have decided to leave ByteDance alone.
Although there has been much controversy and fear surrounding TikTok, ultimately, the Department of Justice has decided to drop their case against ByteDance since they could not find any truly malicious behavior coming from the company.
So, unless anything major changes, TikTok is not going to be banned in the United States anytime soon.
Is TikTok going to be sold to an American company?
For a while, when TikTok was concerned about being totally banned in the United States, there were talks of another company purchasing it from ByteDance.
TikTok was prepared for this ban, and if they were to sell the app to an American tech company, they would have been allowed to continue operating in the USA.
So, some American companies such as Oracle,
However, these deals all fell through when ByteDance discovered that TikTok was not going to be banned in the United States.
As of right now, ByteDance still owns TikTok and they have no plans on selling it.
So, is TikTok owned by China? Well, it is owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance, which is in turn owned by a man named Zhang Yiming.
The Chinese government does indeed own a small stake of 1% in ByteDance, and they have some level of input into how the app operates.
Although the United States threatened to ban TikTok, ultimately, Joe Biden and his administration have decided to allow TikTok to continue to operate in the country.
Unless anything major changes, TikTok will not be banned in the United States anytime soon.
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