The globalization of TikTok: Strategies, governance and geopolitics

Journal Article

This article examines the rise of TikTok in three aspects: globalization strategies, data and content policies, and geopolitical implications. Instead of focusing on app features and uses within the platform proper, we situate and critically analyse TikTok as a platform business in a global media policy and governance context. We first unpack TikTok’s platformization process, tracing how TikTok gradually diversifies its business models and platform affordances to serve multisided markets. To understand TikTok’s platform governance, we systematically analyse and compare its data and content policies for different regions. Crucial to its global expansion, we then look at TikTok’s lobbying efforts to maintain government relations and corporate responses after facing multiple regulatory probing by various national governments. TikTok’s case epitomizes problems and challenges faced by a slew of globalizing Chinese digital platforms in increasingly contested geopolitics that cut across the chasms and fault lines between the rise of China and India as emergent powers in the US-dominated global platform ecosystem.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jia, L; Liang, F

Published Date

  • June 1, 2021

Published In

  • Journal of Digital Media & Policy

Volume / Issue

  • 12 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 273 - 292

Published By

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2516-3523

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1386/jdmp_00062_1


  • en