For the past few weeks, the TikTok application has been under fire. Several states and companies in the world have already decided to ban it. The reason given is the risk that users’ data will end up in the hands of Chinese authorities. Despite the formal lack of evidence, the precautionary principle seems to prevail.

Trust between users

In our book, we insist on the fundamental role of the platform, which must create a climate of trust between its users. The case of TikTok, however, is particular. Indeed, some users do not seek contact with each other, which means that TikTok is also entertaining for users who are not following any other user. This implies that the need for trust between users is less prevalent compared to other platforms such as Amazon or Airbnb.

Trust in the platform

The question of trust is raised here at another level and with respect to a group of actors, less visible, but nevertheless very interested in the activity that takes place on the platform. As is the case with many social networks, the mechanism by which the platform captures value relies on both advertising and the sale of behavioral data to third-party companies specialized in consumer analytics and profiling (as we discuss it in Chapter 5 of the book). It is the responsibility of the platform to be clear on the use of the data collected and since the introduction of the GDPR in Europe, this must be done in full transparency and with the user’s consent.

In the case of TikTok, it seems that the platform is not able to guarantee this transparency and that there is, therefore, a breach of trust. This damages the reputation of the platform and, thereby, its business model. In Chapter 6 of the book, we review different ways to increase the level of trust between platform users.