Skip to main content

TikTok sees increase in government requests for user data

The number of legal requests from governments for TikTok user data increased from the previous half of the year, with India and the U.S. leading those requests, according to TikTok’s new transparency report.

The transparency report published on Thursday looks at the second half of 2019 (July-December). During that time, governments around the world made 500 legal demands — the U.S. making up 100 of those requests — either from law enforcement or government entities about user info and content. India led all other countries with a total of 302 requests.

None of the 500 demands came from Hong Kong or China. That may be because TikTok operates a different app, Douyin, in the Chinese market. A TikTok spokesperson referred Digital Trends to Douyin for comment about how often China and Hong Kong’s government requested user data.

A Douyin spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to Digital Trends. We will update this story when we hear back.

Overall, TikTok removed more than 49 million videos for violating the app’s community guidelines. Over 16 million videos were removed in India, followed by more than 4 million videos in the U.S.

TikTok’s number of government requests for user removal totaled 45,  the U.S. only having one government request that resulted in an account being removed or restricted.  

TikTok's Logo
Getty Images / SOPA Images

The report comes just days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. is “looking at” banning Chinese social media apps such as TikTok. In an interview with Fox News, Pompeo warned people they should only download the app if they want their “private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

It’s not the first time the U.S. government has scrutinized TikTok. In February last year, TikTok was fined $5.7 million for violating COPPA, a children’s privacy law. Then, in November, the U.S. government launched a national security investigation into the app, particularly looking at the company’s acquisition of the app, 

India,  TikTok’s second-largest market, was the first to officially ban the app last month, citing data privacy concerns with other various China-based apps. TikTok is also not operating in Hong Kong anymore, due to a controversial new security law that threatens free speech.

Editors' Recommendations

Allison Matyus
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Allison Matyus is a general news reporter at Digital Trends. She covers any and all tech news, including issues around social…
Is TikTok leaking drafts? Let’s take a closer look at this rumor
The TikTok app on a smartphone's screen. The smartphone is sitting on a white table.

Not every social media post is ready for prime time. Sometimes you write a post or film a video and decide that it's better to not publish it. That's fine. That's what the Drafts folder is for. That folder is built to hold your works-in-progress, mistakes, and other too-goofy-for-public-consumption posts and videos. The Drafts folder is probably one that you take for granted, but what if that folder (via a particularly viral-prone social media platform) were to have its content leaked and published for the world to see? Scary, isn't it?

That's the fear that's behind a certain, now years-long TikTok rumor going around. But is it true? Is TikTok leaking its users' drafts? In this guide, we're taking a closer look at this rumor and fact-checking it.
The rumor
As far as we can tell, the whole "TikTok leaks drafts" rumor dates back to at least the summer of 2020. It's not a rumor that really made mainstream news headlines, but it did get some coverage with lesser-known websites, and it does have a tendency to resurface repeatedly. The last time it resurfaced was in August 2022. Here's what we know about it:

Read more
TikTok pivots to photos while its competitors are still chasing its viral videos
Smartphone with TikTok's Photo Mode all on a white background.

TikTok's competitors have been all over the news recently for essentially copying the short-form video sharing app's  most successful moves. But while everyone else is pivoting to video, TikTok is now taking swings in the other direction: photos.

On Thursday, TikTok announced a slew of new editing and creation features, but the one tool that caught our eye was Photo Mode. Because the image that TikTok shared in its official announcement depicted a photo carousel-style image post that looks a lot like Instagram.

Read more
New feature shows that even Twitter wants to be like TikTok now
Twitter's new full screen feature for videos on the mobile app.

Is TikTok the new queen bee of social media? It appears so as even Twitter couldn't resist copying TikTok. Twitter's latest feature announcement seems to be yet another indication that the viral video app sensation is clearly the new leader among its peers. After all, TikTok is setting trends and its competitors are all following them.

On Thursday, Twitter announced two new video-focused features for its app and one of those features bears a strong resemblance to TikTok. That feature (known as the "immersive media viewer") allows users to open videos in a vertical "full-screen mode" -- just like TikTok -- and continue to view more videos by swiping up (also just like TikTok).

Read more