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TikTok’s likes briefly broke down at the worst possible time

TikTok’s likes briefly broke down at the worst possible time


The Trump administration said it was looking into banning the app

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

For a few hours on Thursday afternoon, videos that appeared on TikTok user pages, following feeds, and the For You Page all displayed broken Like totals for some users across the globe. TikTok showed that these videos had zero likes.

“Earlier today, some of our users experienced app issues around notifications, the display of likes and view counts, and trouble loading videos on some pages of the app,” TikTok said in a statement to The Verge. “The issues appear to have been caused by higher traffic than normal on our servers in Virginia, causing temporary service disruptions. We’ve resolved the problem and are investigating the cause, and will share updates as they become available.”

But the brief outage came at the worst possible time, as many TikTok users concluded that the glitch was the result of a countrywide ban on the app, which had been threatened by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this week. In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Pompeo said that the government was “looking into” banning the app.

“We are taking this very seriously. We are certainly looking at it,” Pompeo said Monday. “With respect to Chinese apps on peoples’ cellphones, the United States will get this one right too.”

Over the last year, US lawmakers and government officials have grown increasingly concerned over the app’s handling of user data and its relationship with the Chinese government. But a “ban” would be difficult to achieve in the US, and the White House has yet to act on its statements.

Updated at 7/9/20 at 9:12PM ET: Added a new statement from TikTok.