Another day, another rumour that a popular online service is about to be pulled with little to no warning.
Following rumours that some of the biggest games in the world – including Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite – will be shut down, the spurious hearsay has made its way to TikTok.
Swirling across the internet are apparent reports that the social media platform will meet its end on 25 January, consigned to digital heaven for ever more.
But here’s why the app (probably) won’t be shut down any time soon:
Where did the rumours come from?
Rumours of TikTok’s demise appear to have originated off the back of the recent announcement that the US Navy has banned its personnel from using the app on government-owned phones over cybersecurity fears.
A bulletin warned serving military members that users of government-issued phones and tablets who did not remove the app would be blocked from the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI).
NMCI users were directed to “uninstall the app TikTok from government-furnished mobile devices, such as iPhones and iPads,” adding the ban had been enforced “based on cybersecurity threat assessments, and is consistent with 10th Fleet efforts to proactively address existing and emerging threats in defence of our networks.”
But while military institutions may be cracking down on the app’s usage for security reasons, for the general public, it’s likely business as usual when it comes to TikTok.
Alongside the US Army’s crackdown on the app, rumours have also sprung up that owners ByteDance are looking to sell the renowned video-sharing app.
But in an internal company note, TikTok chief Alex Zhu dismissed the rumours, saying “we have had no discussions with potential buyers of TikTok, nor do we have any intention to.”
What is TikTok?
TikTok is currently one of the most popular social media platforms among young children and teenagers, with more than 500 million active users per month.
Used to create and watch short video clips, the app overtook both Snapchat and Twitter last year.
So it’s unlikely the platform will be going anywhere – it really wouldn’t make much sense for such an incredibly successful (not to mention profitable) service to suddenly shut down.
However, rumours of its shutdown do spring up fairly regularly, fooling both its young userbase, and parents concerned by their children’s usage of the app.
In early 2019, police urged parents to check the privacy settings on TikTok, after concerns sexual predators are using the video platform to target children were raised.
The warnings came after children as young as eight were targeted by predators in the comments function of live videos, encouraging kids to engage in sexual activity online.
Surrey Police issued an alert for parents on their Facebook page urging them to check the privacy and safety settings if their child uses the app.
The post reads: “It [the app] can be great fun but you also need to be careful.
“[Children’s charity] Barnardo’s has reported seeing children as young as eight using their services after being encouraged to engage in sexual activity online, with TikTok being one of the apps used to target children.
“To check and change privacy settings on TikTok, tap the three dots in the top right hand corner on your profile page and select ‘Privacy and Safety’.