Just as TikTok pushes through its aggressive globalisation strategy by hiring Disney veteran Kevin Mayer, something weird is happening to its Android app in India.
Its rating dropped, over a very quick few days, from 4.5 to 1.2, as many users rushed to give it the lowest rating of 1.
Note that you might find two TikTok Android apps. The first is published by a Singapore entity called TikTok Pte. Ltd.; the latter, which is the one affected by this attack, is published by TikTok Inc.. The first one as well as the TikTok iOS app were not affected.
It is also interesting that the affected TikTok app uses the musically apk, the name (and probably account) from musical.ly, a company ByteDance bought to form the foundation of TikTok.
Apparently it all happened in India, where, as in many other countries, TikTok is almost excessively popular, fuelled by cheap data packages used for smartphones.
It started with popular YouTuber CarryMinati posting a video called “YouTube vs TikTok, the end” which was removed by Youtube for police violation after some 70 million views. TikTok star Amar Siddiqui was roasted during that video, and another TikTok star, Faisal Siddiqui, put some fuel on the episode.
Users, probably supporters of CarryMinati, or (also quite likely) nosy bystanders, rushed to give TikTok one star rating.
Great steps in products, baby steps in globalisation
Whether that was a deliberate smear campaign or a genuine crowd movement – it was hard to say. However, it just highlights the challenges TikTok is facing moderating a global platform with content generated by users which it does not really have control over.
TikTok has experienced a number of controversies since last year – it is not necessarily only because it is a Chinese company (and the inherent distrust by many countries’ regulators and watchdogs), but also due to the fact that it is really young at the global stage.
It is learning the very lessons that YouTube and especially Facebook learnt over the years, after many crises and painful experiences.
We compared Mark Zuckerberg to the Monkey King in a previous article, where he had to face the congress head on in a defining moment of Facebook’s growth from a rocketing startup to a mature company dealing with the messy real world issues.
Here it is the same – TikTok needs to go through these growing pains. It will most likely prevail – and having experienced executives such as Kevin Mayer who understand the language to be spoken will definitely accelerate this process.