GT Voice: TikTok’s business focus can help it bypass US scheming
Published: Jun 25, 2023 10:42 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

As American politicians and various state governments maximize their effort to smear and block TikTok, one of the major countermeasures the Chinese-owned short video-sharing app could take is to enhance its commercial value and make itself indispensable for local users by strengthening its ties with the local market and businesses.

TikTok has signed logistics deals and is currently testing the fulfillment services with US sellers to ensure that the products people buy on its app arrives hassle free at their front door, US-based technology industry information website reported on Saturday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

No matter whether the information is accurate or not, TikTok's recent efforts in transforming itself into a shopping platform highlights the app's determination to continue to increase its commercial importance to the level that cannot be easily overlooked or abandoned by local businesses, so as to withstand pressure from political elements.

The report comes at a time when TikTok has been banned on government devices by several US state governments on "national security" grounds. While TikTok's data-gathering techniques are common and consistent with social-networking industry norms, politicians in Washington are playing up concerns over potential security risks they claim are unique to TikTok. 

In response, TikTok has been trying its best to convince lawmakers in Washington that the platform is not a national security risk. The company has already spent $1.5 billion on Project Texas, an initiative to create a committee based in the US made up of US government-approved members to oversee, store, and monitor US TikTok user data, according to media reports.

But the real "original sin" of TikTok is its advanced digital technology and powerful algorithms, which make American politicians and CEOs of other internet giants nervous and will to do anything to remove it from the field of play.

Despite the political crackdown, it is important to note that in this game around digital technology, TikTok still has its own advantages and the current situation and pressure will only add to its determination to grow stronger and strengthen its e-commerce business to increase its commercial weight in the US society.

If TikTok is banned from developing in the US, the country will lose the opportunity for the development of online shopping in the form of short videos and live streaming that has huge potential. Unlike Huawei's 5G network, which can be replaced at a substantial cost, there is no alternative to TikTok.

Some industrial analysts have already said that TikTok has the potential to become an online shopping platform in the US that can challenge Amazon. It is no secret that the powerful algorithms have led to its success in the form of short videos and live streaming. The number of US social buyers on TikTok is growing rapidly. Statistics from eMarketer showed that 27.3 percent of US TikTok users placed orders on the platform in 2022, and the proportion is expected to rise to 38.6 percent by 2024.

The combination of technology and consumer market means that TikTok can further strengthen cooperation with all parties to enhance its commercial value to make itself a strong magnet for businesses despite the threat of bans. This is because TikTok has emerged from the fierce competition of China's internet economy, and thus working with it in aspects like live streaming will bring huge improvement to local businesses in terms of their logistics and the integration of technology.

Therefore, whatever tricks American politicians seek to use, as long as TikTok maintains its technology advantage and strengthen cooperation with all parties, it will be an integral part of local businesses and consumers, which will be its fundamental strength to counter underhanded political tactics.