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TikTok and the Media Industry

Despite receiving strong backlash over the past few weeks, TikTok remains a popular and important platform for brands within the Australian market as they adapt their marketing strategies. The platform boasts over 1.6 million users within Australia making it one of the fastest growing social media platforms. Many Australians however, including PM Scott Morrison, are now cautious that their privacy is at risk.

The Issue

According to a proposed lawsuit from last year filed against the social media giants, TikTok has been accused of gathering users data including phone numbers, emails, location, IP addresses and social network contacts. The lawsuit states that through the assistance of “Chinese surveillance software”, TikTok transfers this personal data across to Chinese servers, and that these servers are employed to identify and track users. Although there has been no supporting evidence of this, it has had an impact on the popularity of the platform and left users doubting the platforms transparency as of late.

The Solution

TikTok Australia’s GM Lee Hunter insists the app has never shared users data, especially with the Chinese government. He also stated that users data is not stored in Chinese servers, rather servers located in Singapore, and that these servers now have increased security with emphasis on data access across regions. Despite this, Hunter has reassured the app will focus on providing new and updated privacy and security technologies internationally to keep users data safe and keep their minds at ease when using the app.

The Indian government, however, has taken careful measures to avoid any risk of sensitive information being passed on to places that it shouldn’t, by banning the app completely.

What this means for the media industry

The media industry is constantly evolving and adding to its arsenal of communications platforms. TikTok is the latest addition and is a very successful means of marketing and entertainment. Internationally, the app has reached over 1.5 billion downloads, with extremely impressive engagement stats, with users averaging 52 minutes a day on the app combined over 8 visits per day. Throughout the pandemic it has taken a huge upswing with more people spending time online, yet coupling this with family time.

The time and attention the media industry is receiving through TikTok is massive for the marketing of brands and influencers. The main point of different as it stands is the algorithm. While other platforms are commercialised, TikTok is only just exploring this business element and therefore their algorithm is not yet built to favour channels who get users to spend more time on the app (if that’s even possible #TikTokspiral). In this sense, ANYONE CAN GO VIRAL!

The potential banning of the app would see users looking elsewhere for entertainment, which then results in brands and influencers losing large scale marketing and in some cases income, seriously harming the media industry.

TikTok is portrayed as one of the best ways for influencers and brands to connect with their audiences and despite the negative publicity of late, TikTok is still an increasingly popular platform within Australia. With no evidence behind the allegations, most users don’t feel at risk, leaving majority to continue using the app.


*Edit 6th August 2020: TikTok won’t be banned in Australia [click to read via AdNews]

By Michael Fitness – PR/Influencer Assistant at InsideOut PR and #AsSeenOn

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