TikTok Star Questions if Apple is 'Slowly Censoring' App after iMessage Previews Stop Working

TikTok users equipped with iPhones have been left confused after links sent via Apple's iMessage appear to have stopped showing previews.

Previously, when users of the popular app shared video content via the app they would be shown an embed version of the clip, with an image clearly showing what the upload contained. Now, videos are displayed as "HTML text" with a line of numbers.

It's unclear when the iMessage issue started, but comes as the Trump administration is threatening to ban the app unless an acquisition deal with a U.S. firm can be made by mid-September—leading some TikTok users to question the timing.

As noted by Gizmodo, the link situation was raised yesterday by a user with the handle @lifeofadoctor, who told his 573,000 followers to test it for themselves.

"I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but hear me out. About a month ago, if you shared a TikTok post through iMessage, you would get a preview like this. Then about a week ago, you lost a preview but it still says TikTok. Now the only thing you see when you share a TikTok video is this HTML text. I don't know what's going on," he said.

In a caption on the viral post, he wrote: "iMessage slowly censoring TikTok?"

The video has attracted hundreds of thousands of views, and quickly made its way to Twitter, where users were also complaining about the problem.

"Does somebody know why TikTok looks weird when you send it through iMessage?" one person wrote. A second user tweeted yesterday: "Is Apple iMessage phasing out TikTok? Link previews completely broke to where all that's displayed is HTML."

A third person used Twitter to suggest there were ulterior motives behind the links no longer showing: "Ummm, @Apple? Are you censoring @tiktok_us via iMessage??"

how tiktok links showed up in imessage a week ago vs. how they show up now... @apple WHAT ARE YOU UP TO pic.twitter.com/JAhYNKtjcj

— christy (@christyecf) August 14, 2020

why are the tiktok previews broken in imessage and most importantly why can't i find the DISCOURSE about it? the open graph tags look okay, the headers seem fine. whoever is out there searching these words please engage pic.twitter.com/TJvVDJLqAv

— definitely colin brooks (@colinbooks) August 14, 2020

Weird. This is what it looks like in iMessage when you share a TikTok video right now. pic.twitter.com/ug9auhP5yd

— Keith M. (@SumoFondue) August 13, 2020

Is @apple #iMessage phasing out #TikTok? Link previews completely broke to where all that’s displayed is HTML. #sketch pic.twitter.com/eTSCjiyc8p

— Megan McCook (@megmccook) August 14, 2020

Ok why now when you send someone in iMessage a TikTok link it says HTML or file & doesn’t show a preview or thumbnail of the video anymore...🤔🤔🤔🤔

— alli. (@lovemesomeALLI) August 14, 2020

It's unknown what is causing previews to disappear, be it a bug or an intentional move by the tech giant that this week found itself at the center of a storm after banning the publisher of the video game Fortnite from its App Store over a payment dispute.

TikTik and Apple have been contacted for clarification.

U.S. officials have alleged that TikTok should be banned over concerns that its Chinese ownership—a Beijing-based company called ByteDance—means that the personal data of Americans could be left open to compromise by the foreign government.

TikTok has denied the suggestion that it's a national security risk and said it will pursue legal action to fight against an executive order released by the president last week. A second order focused on WeChat, a messaging service owned by Tencent.

"What we want is total security, but we have a deadline of September 15," Trump said at a press briefing yesterday afternoon. "I know Microsoft and others are very interested in it, but that's our deadline," he added. "And it has to be proven to be totally secure. We don't want to have any information going into China with what we've been through."

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In this photo illustration, the TikTok app is displayed on an Apple iPhone on August 7, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer/Getty