How TikTok grew from a fun app for teens into a potential national security threat

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TikTok, a widely popular social media platform, has been in the spotlight for several years now, sparking debates about its future. Originating in China, TikTok gained immense popularity after merging with Musical.ly in 2017, evolving into a global sensation. However, concerns about national security risks led to President Biden signing legislation requiring its parent company, ByteDance, to sell to a U.S. owner or face shutdown within a year.

The journey of TikTok began with ByteDance’s founding in China, followed by the creation of Musical.ly, a platform for sharing short music videos. As TikTok’s popularity soared, ByteDance acquired Musical.ly and merged it with TikTok, ushering in a new era of social media entertainment.

TikTok’s algorithm-driven platform encouraged users to share a diverse range of content, from dance routines to cooking tutorials and viral challenges. However, controversies emerged, including allegations of content moderation bias and privacy concerns.

Despite these challenges, TikTok continued to grow, with notable milestones such as viral music sensations and becoming the second-most downloaded app globally. However, its success was overshadowed by mounting scrutiny from U.S. officials over its Chinese ownership and data privacy practices.

President Trump’s administration took a firm stance against TikTok, issuing executive orders to ban transactions with ByteDance and demanding divestment of its U.S. operations. While potential acquisitions by American companies like Microsoft and Oracle were explored, they ultimately fell through, leading to legal battles and regulatory uncertainties.

As the political landscape shifted with Biden’s presidency, the future of TikTok remained uncertain. While legal cases were postponed, concerns about data security and Chinese government influence persisted, prompting further scrutiny from federal agencies and legislators.

Despite ongoing efforts to address privacy and security issues, TikTok faced intensified scrutiny, culminating in congressional hearings and the passage of legislation to ban or force its sale to a U.S. company. With the bill signed into law, TikTok’s fate hangs in the balance, raising questions about its long-term viability and the future of social media regulation.

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