TikTok will exit the Hong Kong market within days, a spokesman told Reuters late on Monday, along with other companies, including Facebook. The decision comes as a result of the recent censorship law, enforced by the Chinese Party that targets the internet.
According to the Reuters report, an increasing number of technology companies refuse to process government requests for user data in the region. The China-based firm, ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, stated that a decision was made by the company to exit the territory. ByteDance said it did this to protect personal data, and counteract China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.
Run by former Walt Disney Co executive Kevin Mayer, ByteDance found itself in hot water with the Chinese government. In the past, the company said that it would not comply with requests from Chinese censors and government to access to TikTok’s user data and stated that it never received such requests from Chinese officials.
Last August, TikTok reported it had attracted 150,000 users in Hong Kong, and globally the app has been downloaded more than 2 billion times through the Apple and Google stores in the first quarter of this year. Exiting Hong Kong will not impact the application tremendously, like in the case of the Indian Ban of TikTok. Also unclear is what will replace TikTok in the region? Douyin? The Chinese analog of TikTok? But ByteDance owns them both! You have to follow local policies and try not to offend the Chinese government and the public. ByteDance’s separation of TikTok from Douyin was the same strategy, Chinese owned firms attempting to internationalize and appeal to other markets. We also have to consider the fact that Douyin, with all the censorship, is more prevalent in Hong Kong than TikTok, so an exit seems to be a smart choice.