Snap CEO Attributes TikTok Success to 'Billions and Billions of Dollars' Spent by Communist China

Snap CEO Attributes TikTok Success to 'Billions and Billions of Dollars' Spent by Communist China
A visitor makes a photo at the TikTok exhibition stands at the Gamescom computer gaming fair in Cologne, Germany, on Aug. 25, 2022.(The Canadian Press/AP, Martin Meissner)
Nicholas Dolinger

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel has spoken out about the influence of the Chinese regime in the success of TikTok, claiming that the communist regime has spent billions of dollars to equip the short video content app to dominate the market and edge out competitors.

Speaking at the Code Conference 2022, Spiegel warned of the influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over the social media app, beloved by teenagers for its infectious and digestible short videos and its startlingly effective content algorithm.

Though widely reputed as fun and addictive, the app has been targeted by those who see a sinister agenda behind the veneer of trendy dance videos: a concerted effort by the communist Chinese regime to influence the world by collecting data on the consumption habits of Americans and other foreigners.

During the Code Conference panel, NYU Stern professor Scott Galloway remarked that TikTok was "kicking the [expletive] out of everybody," referring to the platform's domination of the marketplace.

“The reason why this has been so challenging for companies to respond to in the United States, but also around the world, is the scale of TikTok’s investment,” Spiegel responded.

“What nobody had anticipated in the United States was the level of investment that ByteDance made into the U.S. market, and of course in Europe, because it was just something that was unimaginable—no startup could afford to invest billions and billions and billions of dollars in user acquisition like that around the world,” Spiegel continued.

'Unfair Advantage'

TikTok, funded by Chinese capital, has quickly become the largest social media app in the world, with over one billion monthly users. However, the Snap CEO attributes this explosive growth primarily to the astroturfing investments of the Chinese regime, which helped propel the app to the top of the market with an unfair advantage.

“It was a totally different strategy than any technology company had expected before because it wasn’t an innovation-led strategy; it was really about subsidizing large-scale user acquisition.”

 The TikTok logo on a smartphone in Tokyo, Japan, on Sept. 28, 2020. (Kiichiro Sato/File/AP Photo)
The TikTok logo on a smartphone in Tokyo, Japan, on Sept. 28, 2020. (Kiichiro Sato/File/AP Photo)

The ubiquity of TikTok has been accompanied by a host of deleterious effects, chief among these privacy and mental health concerns.

In one case study, Caroline Olvera of the Rush University Medical Center investigated the phenomenon of several TikTok users spontaneously developing symptoms of Tourette's syndrome, with one unusually specific pattern: All of the women studied spontaneously began to shout the word "beans."

This pattern was attributed to the popularity of Tourette's-afflicted TikTok influencer thistrippyhippie, who naturally developed the "beans" tic. The prevalence of this tic suggested a psychosomatic illness, adding to a growing body of evidence of such ailments.

"TikTok tics are distinct from what is typically seen in patients with Tourette syndrome, although share many characteristics with functional tics. We believe this to be an example of mass sociogenic illness, which involves behaviors, emotions, or conditions spreading spontaneously through a group," Olvera et al. concluded.

While the Snap CEO did not directly mention many of these issues, his comments attest to the growing concerns over the ubiquity of TikTok and the Chinese capital allegedly responsible for its success.

Spiegel also noted that he intended to compete with TikTok by emphasizing engagement with friends and family members rather than strangers, giving Snapchat a unique appeal based on personal connections rather than the impersonal and disposable content favored by TikTok.

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