The video-sharing platform may add a new social element this year.
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This story originally appeared on PCMag
Despite cementing its place as one of the most popular social networks in the world, TikTok isn’t really all that social. That could be about to change, though.
According to Reuters, ByteDance plans to develop the video-sharing platform into more of a “social interactions app”—complete with its own group messaging function launching this year. A chat feature, the news site pointed out, has been available in Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, since 2019.
Social media firms regularly borrow from each other, reinventing features made popular by rivals. In this case, a group chat function could end up looking a lot like Facebook Messenger, which was released as a standalone iOS and Android app in 2011. As Reuters suggested, a messaging service would help keep users engaged in the app longer. The company has previously experimented with other social elements like livestreaming and shopping, but it’s unclear exactly how far along the group chat feature is, and TikTok did not immediately respond to PCMag’s request for comment.
Related: New TikTok Tools Promote Kindness Online
Popular among teens and young adults, the service came under fire last year when Donald Trump called ByteDance and its TikTok app a threat to national security and ordered the company to sell its US-based business. The former president in September gave preliminary approval for a special deal between Walmart and Oracle to create the domestic entity known as “TikTok Global.” The plan, however, was shelved “indefinitely” last month as President Biden reviews potential security risks from Chinese tech firms.
TikTok continues to dominate headlines—good and bad. In February, the European Consumer Organization claimed the service fails to protect children from inappropriate content; days later, TikTok agreed to pay $92 million to settle a lawsuit over alleged personal data “theft.”