👉 The US Tik Tok Ban & The Future of Online Society

How destabilizing US-China relations and cancel culture will drive ideological segregation online and IRL

Yo! ✌️ I’m Brett! I am a Product Manager, musician, and Twitter power user. Twitter is where all the action happens in the tech industry but it’s not easy to keep up with. I write this weekly newsletter to help people stay informed on the most important discussions happening on Tech Twitter.


🛑 India banned Tik Tok - As tensions mounted, India banned 59 Chinese apps.

🏃‍♂️ Companies are rushing to fill the void - Triller became #1 in India and Instagram launched Reels to compete, but new startups may have a good shot as well.

🇺🇸 The same ban may be coming to the US - While it’s antithetical to American free market ideals, a ban in the US seems imminent given the administration’s fears of China interfering with the upcoming election to its detriment.

🎬 The ideological fractionalization of platforms has begun - More nations will likely follow suit banning platforms. Platforms will also continue to ban user groups (e.g. far right conservatives on Reddit this week). This will lead to more extreme ideological segregation online and the eventual unbundling of nations themselves.

⚔️ Tech elite vs journalists is a clear example - Recent drama between a NYT reporter and a famous investor highlight the discontent with the crowded public squares of modern social networks and the desire for more exclusive safe spaces online.

🍔 BONUS: Uber acquires Postmates - Consolidation is finally coming to food delivery via Uber’s $2.6B stock deal with Postmates.

Plus many more great tweets!

🛑 India banned Tik Tok

Conflict between India and China had been heating up for some time, but few anticipated India banning 59 apps like they did last week - read the full statement from the government.

This was a massive move. Chinese apps - particularly Tik Tok - are a huge part of internet culture.

🏃‍♂️ Companies are rushing to fill the void

Triller, Tik Tok’s long time rival jolted to number one in the App Store in India.

While Facebook seems to be winding down its Tik Tok clone, Lasso, Instagram has begun rolling out Reels, a Tik-Tok-like short form video feature in India.

This has also created an incredible opportunity for new social media startups. Typically, to successfully displace an incumbent social media product, a startup needs to introduce a new communication or content creation modality and attract a younger audience. Instagram introduced photo (filters) and Tik Tok introduced video (lip syncs). With Tik Tok banned in India (and potentially the US), a simpler strategy of just cloning core functionality without much innovation may be viable.

🇺🇸 The same ban may be coming to the US

A few days after the Indian ban, it came out that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been evaluating doing the same ban in the US.

The key reasons are similar to India’s: to protect the US’s security and sovereignty. However, it goes much deeper for the Trump administration, which has been at odds with the CCP for some time and has reelection coming up they don’t want to be messed with.

But banning Chinese apps outright isn’t as straightforward as it seems.

🎬 The ideological fractionalization of platforms has begun

As nationalism continues to rise around the world and the power of social media platforms for influence and control becomes more clear, we may witness more bans.

The bans may initially align to international alliances (e.g. Europe may be next), but I believe the future is around ideological boundaries.

As politics becomes more polarized, platforms are becoming host to more extreme groups. At the same time, this is also driving more pressure for those platforms to moderate content.

This is driving more banning of users and groups like Reddit did just last week.

New platforms built by and for people in these banned communities will emerge as safe havens. Parler - Twitter for conservatives - is a recent example.

Verticalized online communities are not new. Even beyond the disenfranchised, individuals have been increasingly identifying with their online communities more than their local, offline communities for some time. This is why you probably aren’t friend with many people on Nextdoor.

As the fidelity of online experiences and the availability of remote work increases, this divide will become even more significant. Eventually these online communities, particularly those at odds with their local communities (like minority extremist political groups), will begin building their own cities.

⚔️ Tech elite vs journalists is a clear example

The age-old conflict between journalists and the tech elite had another controversy this week. NYT journalist Taylor Lorenz called out Away CEO Steph Corey for some of her comments about the media. Investor Balaji Srinivasan responded in Steph’s defense and then the conflict cascaded into chaos from there.

What made this event so visceral for many was its connection to cancel culture. Humans have a strange love of building people up only to tear them down. The media is the vehicle by which this happens, and with modern social media, this power is now decentralized.

People have sought safe spaces in the form of private societies and clubs throughout history, but this trend is only just hitting the digital world and its being accelerated due to cancel culture.

While this conflict stopped short of Taylor or Balaji getting cancelled, it highlights our discontent with the crowded public squares of modern social networks and the desire for more exclusive safe spaces online.

🍔 Uber acquires Postmates

A few weeks ago, former Uber exec Emil Michael called for increased consolidation in the food delivery space. Last week, he got it.

This comes a few weeks after the rumored GrubHub acquisition fell through. Many are speculating now that Postmates was actually the superior acquisition due to its focus on last mile delivery and logistics.

👍Other great tweets

Also check out these threads and discussions!


Also, Kanye is running for president. Wut?