TikTok is staying out of the fray.
The China-based short video app said it will not allow political ads of any kind on its platform, separating itself from YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, which routinely allow politically themed advertising.
TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, said political ads would detract from “the app’s light-hearted and irreverent feeling that makes it such a fun place to spend time.” The announcement follows criticism of TikTok for banning content that touches on Hong Kong’s anti-Beijing protests or that it deems pro LGBT.
TikTok is an immensely popular app. It’s been downloaded more than a billion times around the world, with as many as 100 million of those downloads coming in the U.S. Its approach—which TikTok says creates a “positive, refreshing environment,” but which critics assail for censorship and pro-Beijing propaganda—has fuelled extraordinary growth during the app’s relatively short period of existence.
But will the approach, which partly cuts off users from real-world issues with which at least some of them may want to engage, produce continued growth over the long term? Time will tell.