TikTok and others to leave Hong Kong soon as China pressure increases

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Viral short-video sharing platform TikTok will reportedly exit the Hong Kong market within days, as other technology companies including social media giant Facebook, the global search platform Google have stopped taking government requests for user data in the region.

China-based ByteDance’s TikTok made the decision to exit the region as the Chinese Authorities introduced a comprehensive new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

“In light of recent events, we’ve decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong.”
TikTok Spokesman

The firm, which had previously mentioned that its app’s user data is not stored in China, had also expressed that it would not comply with any Chinese government requests to censor/allow access to TikTok’s user data, nor has it ever been asked to do so.

A popular app across the globe, TikTok has been downloaded more than 2 billion times through the Apple and Google app stores in Q1 2020, while it had attracted 150,000 users in Hong Kong last August.

ByteDance, which does not serve TikTok in the region, operates a similar short video sharing app called Douyin in China.

Earlier, leading internet brands, Facebook, Google and Twitter suspended processing government requests for user data in Hong Kong. Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, said it was “pausing” reviews for all of its services “pending further assessment of the National Security Law”.

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, and Twitter said they suspended their reviews of data requests from Hong Kong authorities immediately after the law went into effect last week.