TikTok tops the list of the world’s most downloaded apps, according to Nikkei Asia, dethroning Facebook products and escalating concerns about the security of its users’ information.
TikTok jumped from the fourth most downloaded app in 2019 to the top of the list in 2020, according to the analysis by Nikkei, which said it used data compiled by App Annie, a mobile and app data analytics provider with headquarters in San Francisco.
Following TikTok are a series of Facebook products that round out the top five most downloaded applications in 2020: Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. Facebook Messenger was the top app in 2019, followed by Facebook.
As TikTok becomes increasingly popular, U.S. policymakers are concerned about users’ data security because of TikTok’s China-based owners. Chinese policies involve military-civil fusion, which removes barriers between the commercial sector, including TikTok owner ByteDance, and the government.
Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, wrote to American Airlines CEO Doug Parker last week to request that he halt the company’s burgeoning relationship with TikTok. American Airlines announced this month that it was working to give passengers access to TikTok without the need to purchase in-flight Wi-Fi.
“By partnering with TikTok, American Airlines is now lending its brand credibility to a company that endangers national security and the data security of tens of millions of Americans, many of them minors,” Mr. Rubio wrote in the letter. “I urge you to suspend American Airlines’ ‘innovative partnership’ with TikTok while the U.S. Government completes its investigation into the national security risks posed by the Chinese-owned app.”
American Airlines said free in-flight entertainment is important to customers.
“Based on customer feedback, connecting with family and friends through personal accounts on social media platforms while in flight is important to them,” American Airlines spokesperson Stacy Day said in a statement. “With that in mind, we work with our Wi-Fi provider to offer customers more of what they want — a diverse variety of entertainment options, which currently includes TikTok. We do not share any data with TikTok through this offering, nor do we have a direct commercial relationship with the company.”
Mr. Rubio wrote that the U.S. government’s national security review of TikTok began in 2019. The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security were among several federal agencies that banned the use of TikTok on government devices during the Trump administration. U.S. military personnel also were prohibited from using the app.
President Trump signed executive orders last year to bar transactions with ByteDance.
President Biden revoked Mr. Trump’s executive orders aimed at TikTok in June and replaced them with orders that the White House said would create a “criteria-based decision framework” to analyze risks posed by information and communications technology services transactions involving foreign adversaries.
TikTok has not responded to a request for comment.