Several social media giants have ceased reviewing requests by Hong Kong government authorities to search residents’ data, following China’s enforcement of a new national security law covering the territory.
Recently, ByteDance’s video-sharing social networking service TikTok announced that it will stop operations in Hong-kong, joining other social media giants like Facebook Inc. in thoughtfully judging the consequences of sweeping a new national security law that took effect last week.
The new law gives the government of China the power to arrest protesters in Hong Kong or restrain their activities. In a wake of recent events, the company has decided to halt operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong, the spokesperson from TikTok said.
Previously TikTok said in the statement that it would not comply with any requests made by the government of China to censor video content or for access to app’s user data, nor has the company ever been asked to do so. The company never stored the app’s user data in China, said CEO Kevin Mayer.
Sources cite that Hong Kong is a loss-making market for the company. In August 2019, TikTok attracted around 150,000 users in Hong Kong. On the global scale, the TikTok app has been downloaded over 2 billion times through the Google and Apple app stores after the first quarter this year.
According to sources familiar with the knowledge of the matter, the decision to exit Hong Kong was made because it was unclear if Hong Kong would now consider completely under Beijing’s jurisdiction in the wake of a new law.
ByteDance currently has no plans to introduce Douyin, TikTok equivalent in China, to the Hong Kong market, a spokesman from ByteDance said. The company developed TikTok, which recently get banned in India over security concerns, to lure a global audience.