TikTok, the wildly popular short-form video app, continues to be banned by an increasing number of governmental bodies around the world, even as it’s embraced by major brands and over a billion consumers worldwide. This week, the contrast between the two was particularly stark as the European Commission (EC) banned the app due to concerns about cybersecurity threats, while Mercedes-Benz announced that TikTok, along with other popular apps, will be available in its new E-Class cars.
The EC, which employs about 30,000 people, issued a directive suspending the use of TikTok on all corporate and personal devices used for work purposes, citing concerns about cybersecurity. The EC also said that it will keep other social media platforms “under constant review.” The ban adds to the growing list of governmental bodies, including the UK Parliament and the US House of Representatives, that have banned TikTok due to concerns about data privacy and the app’s Chinese parent company ByteDance.
However, while TikTok may be facing bans from governments, it’s being embraced by major brands such as Mercedes-Benz. The automaker will become the first to feature TikTok in its cars, along with other apps like Zoom, Angry Birds, and the Vivaldi web browser. Drivers will be able to watch TikTok and other video apps when parked, thanks to the updated version of the MBUX infotainment system, which makes it easier to integrate third-party apps. Mercedes has also launched its own app store and plans to replace MBUX with its own MB.OS operating system by the middle of the decade.
Mercedes’ decision to include TikTok in its cars reflects the app’s growing popularity among younger consumers, who are increasingly using it to discover new products and engage with brands. By including TikTok in its cars, Mercedes is positioning itself as a brand that’s in touch with the latest trends and technologies. The move is also part of a broader effort by the automaker to create a more engaging in-car experience for drivers and passengers, which includes a long-term partnership with Google to offer YouTube, maps, and navigation capabilities.
TikTok’s popularity among consumers is also reflected in its investments in infrastructure, including building data centers in Europe. The app’s parent company ByteDance has been working to address concerns about data privacy and security, but it remains to be seen whether this will be enough to satisfy governments that have banned the app.
In the meantime, the contrast between TikTok’s bans by governments and its embrace by brands like Mercedes-Benz highlights the challenges that companies face in navigating the complex and rapidly changing digital landscape. While concerns about data privacy and security are legitimate, they must be balanced against the benefits of engaging with consumers in new and innovative ways. For now, it seems that brands are willing to take that risk, even as governments continue to ban the app.