TikTok has entered the group chat.
The popular video-sharing app could launch a feature this year that would let groups of users exchange messages, a new report says.
The group messaging function could keep TikTok’s users on the app longer and help it compete more directly with social media stalwarts such as Facebook, according to Reuters.
Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, has offered group chats since 2019, but parent company ByteDance is now evaluating when and where to expand the feature, the news agency reported Wednesday.
If it’s launched in the US, it could make TikTok a stronger rival to Facebook, which has built a digital messaging juggernaut out of its Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram apps.
But TikTok’s group chats would likely be unencrypted, Reuters reports — a distinction that could give Facebook an edge with users concerned about security.
The Silicon Valley titan pledged in 2019 to move toward end-to-end encryption for all of its users’ private communications, meaning Facebook would not be able to see their chats.
ByteDance discussed brining group messages to TikTok last year but held off after the app was banned in India and threatened by then-President Donald Trump, one source told Reuters.
Security was a key concern for Trump — his administration alleged that Americans’ TikTok user data could be shared with the Chinese government, claims the app has denied.
Trump moved last year to effectively shut down TikTok in the US unless ByteDance divested the app’s American operations. The Beijing-based tech giant made a deal with Oracle and Walmart to do just that, but the arrangement has been in limbo as federal courts blocked the Trump administration from enforcing its orders.
TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.