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WTF?! TikTok often makes headlines over claims that its user data is shared with the Chinese government, but it seems the company is also having an unintended (or possibly intended) impact on one of Europe's largest ammunition manufacturers.
Nammo, an ammo manufacturer co-owned by the Norwegian government and a Finnish state-controlled defense company, cannot meet the increasing demand for its artillery rounds because a local data center, whose primary customer is TikTok, is using all the electricity in the region, preventing a planned expansion of Nammo's factory.
"We are concerned because we see our future growth is challenged by the storage of cat videos," Morten Brandtzæg, Nammo chief executive, told the Financial Times.
Brandtzæg said demand for the company's artillery shells has surged to 15 times higher than usual, a result of the war in Ukraine. He said the country wants to increase the daily number of rounds it uses from 6,000 to 65,000 as it fights Russian forces.
Elvia, the local energy company, said that the network had no spare capacity as it works on a first-come, first-served basis and had promised it to the data center. Brandtzæg believes governments should prioritize electricity for certain industries. "Critical industry must have access to energy," he said. "I don't think it's a one-off, I think it's a trend for the future."
The fact that China has never publicly condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine and leader Xi Jinping recently met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow to cement the two countries' relationship has raised questions over whether this was unintentional on TikTok's part.
"I will not rule out that it's not by pure coincidence that this activity is close to a defense company," Brandtzæg said. "I can't rule it out."
There are plans for more TikTok data centers in Norway as the nation offers cheap electricity and a cold climate for keeping cooling costs down. It plans to build what will be the largest data center campus in Norway, with a capacity of up to 150MW, by November 2023. The facility (above) will be fully powered by renewable energy, primarily from hydropower.
It's been a difficult month for TikTok in the US. The White House threw its support behind a Senate bill that would enable the country to ban TikTok, something the Biden administration has threatened to do if ByteDance doesn't sell it to someone outside of China.
Masthead: NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization