TikTok gains 50 million users in US as ban looms

TikTok is facing a complete ban in the US over its links to China (iStock/ Getty Images)
TikTok is facing a complete ban in the US over its links to China (iStock/ Getty Images)

Nearly half of all Americans are now using TikTok, the company’s chief executive is expected to say this week.

CEO Shou Zi Chew will unveil the latest user data when he testifies before Congress on Thursday, according to an NBC report, which comes amid accusations that the Chinese-owned app poses a national security threat.

The last time TikTok publicly revealed the number of users in the US was when it passed the 100 million monthly active users milestone.

The latest report suggests this figure has now grown by 50 per cent, taking it to 150 million users. Third-party analysis of TikTok’s popularity, conducted by Cloudflare in 2021, found that the company overtook Google to become the world’s most visited website.

The US Department of Justice is currently investigating whether TikTok unlawfully surveilled users of the social media site after its parent company ByteDance admitted to obtaining user data inappropriately while investigating leaks to the media.

“We have strongly condemned the actions of the individuals found to have been involved, and they are no longer employed at ByteDance,” a spokesperson for the company told The Independent in a statement.

“Our internal investigation is still ongoing, and we will cooperate with any official investigations when brought to us.”

Several US states, as well as different branches of the federal government, have already banned the app on official devices, citing security risks.

The BBC also told staff on Sunday that they should delete TikTok from corporate phones, which itself followed a ban put in place by the UK government.

“We don’t recommend installing TikTok on a BBC corporate device unless there is a justified business reason,” the BBC said in a message to employees.

“The decision is based on concerns raised by government authorities worldwide regarding data privacy and security.”

TikTok said it was “disappointed” with the decision, claiming that the bans are based on “fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics”.

Mr Chew will appear before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce committee on Thursday in Washington.