Chances are, you know that a lot is going on with TikTok right now. About a month ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. is seriously considering banning TikTok (which was created by the Chinese company ByteDance) because the U.S. government (and even former U.S.-based TikTok coders) believe China has an alarming amount of access to our data.
A few days ago, things escalated when Trump told reporters he's working on banning TikTok and didn't want a U.S. company to buy it out, either. However, according to CNN, Trump is currently being coaxed to allow a sale, and it looks like Microsoft is one of the huge tech companies interested in buying the insanely popular social media app. Earlier, it was reported that Apple had joined in on the TikTok fun, too.
Is Apple buying TikTok?
According to an Axios report (per multiple unnamed sources), Apple was very "serious" about acquiring TikTok, but the company shot those rumors down really, really fast. Apple reps told The Verge that "there are no talks at present to acquire TikTok and it has no plans to pursue such a deal." It's not surprising Apple doesn't want anything to do with TikTok. Back in June, the company caught TikTok spying on iPhone users. Apple had found an issue in iOS 14 which allowed apps (like TikTok) to low-key access users' clipboards.
Apple fixed this lapse in security coding, but it proved that TikTok had figured out a way to gain access to iPhone users' personal information, which is super scary. Anything you had on your clipboard, be it passwords to your bank or Netflix account, personal links, or any other kinds of private information, was easily accessible to TikTok.
The alternative possibility is TikTok stealing what is on my clipboard every single time I type a keystroke.— Jeremy Burge (@jeremyburge) June 24, 2020
I don't have a way to know for sure. Thought it worth putting out there.
Aside from privacy issues, The Verge adds that Apple has always been anti-targeted advertising, which is the core of TikTok's business and monetization strategy. During a keynote speech back in March 2019, Apple CEO Tim Cook told the crowd that Apple products are meant to be completely secure. All your personal information stays in one place and would never get sold to a third party. “They’re designed to keep your personal information private and secure,” Cook said.
Although it's been boiling for several years now, there's been a lot of distrust in the tech world. Whether it's Facebook, Google, or TikTok, so many of the apps we download listen to us and use that information to sell us things the algorithm is programmed to believe we'll buy (or do). Facebook especially has received a lot of scrutiny over the way it has handles user information, as Trump's election back in 2016 was believed to have happened thanks to targeted Facebook ads that spewed misinformation about his opponents (i.e., Hillary Clinton).
It'll be interesting to see what happens to TikTok, if anything. Millions of Americans use TikTok (and make a lot of money off of it), and thousands are even employed by the company (which has headquarters all over North America). Even the CEO of TikTok is American. If TikTok does get acquired by another tech giant, we hope it's in more trustworthy hands.