Ah, TikTok. Depending on your age, you probably either love it, prefer vine, or don’t know about it. But obviously, this isn’t always true.
For example, TikTok has somehow managed to garner the attention of the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump. In a statement earlier this month, the Trump administration stated that the U.S. is considering banning the app altogether.
TikTok is a huge platform, rife with creators. So naturally, this announcement is worrisome, as it is estimated that about 20 million Americans use the app monthly.
The reasoning behind it’s banning is due to ‘national security concerns’. This wouldn’t be the first time TikTok receives attention for the way it collects data, either. Companies like Amazon and Wells Fargo even told their employees to delete the app entirely (although Amazon later stated that the email containing the announcement was sent by mistake).
People are now speaking out, talking about the dangers of the app. India also banned the app, along with several others, in which they said that these apps pose a “threat to sovereignty and integrity.”
Tik Tok is a threat to our nation’s national security and the private information of your child.
Delete the app off your child’s phone!
— David Nicholas (@DavidANicholas) July 9, 2020
What’s wrong with TikTok?
So what exactly is TikTok doing that is so dangerous? Well, it’s not a secret that TikTok does collect your data. It stores both the data from when you use TikTok, but also other things, too.
For example, your location data, phone number, and what device you’re using. With this information, it can often be sold in places that China has access to. Yet, TikTok is not the only app that does this. In fact, there are other apps that do much of the same thing.
There are other concerns, though. Take the concern of TikTok handing over information to Chinese authorities if prompted to. Although TikTok has made a statement that this is a line they are not willing to cross, the question of this happening still remains.
Of course, not everyone reacts the same way. Many people on the internet seemed unfazed by TikTok’s privacy breaches and found this discussion to be silly.
why would i use TIKTOK when they STEAL MY DATA to send back to CHINA when I can be a GOOD AMERICAN and use FACEBOOK who steals my INFO and SELLS IT TO CHINA like a TRUE PATRIOT
— Joey⚡️ (@joeygllghr) July 10, 2020
Data selling, anyone?
The way TikTok collects data may not be the only reason for a possible ban. A lot of people question if TikTok is even dangerous in the first place. Or at least, is TikTok more dangerous than other apps, such as Facebook? Facebook is not a stranger to issues with data privacy in the past. The differences appear:
A.) TikTok has a far larger younger audience.
And B.) The United State’s relations with China.
"TikTok is stealing our data," they write on a site that is stealing their data.
— Art M. (@gamerfrommars) July 14, 2020
The ongoing tensions between China and the United States may be playing a role in this decision.
TikTok played up its U.S. ties and said it doesn’t feed user data to China after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatens to ban of the app https://t.co/mo6Qc6ruPM
— Bloomberg (@business) July 7, 2020
Or just international political play?
This may not necessarily involve politics with the United States passing the Hong Kong Autonomy Act. Instead, it involves the politics of cybersecurity historically.
In the past, there have been numerous breaches of national security, such as the Equifax hack of 2017. These breaches in the past were considered to originate from China.
Sorry, you’ve been banned.
In addition, TikTok has suffered censorship scandals in the past. One such example occurred in 2019, where TikTok had policies that apparently hid content from people who are not considered “traditionally” beautiful.
In other words, anyone who does not fit into a narrow set of criteria would be shadowbanned on the app (with these policies in place). TikTok’s response states that these policies were never enacted in the United States. However, even disregarding that, there is still more censorship occurring.
According to the Guardian, TikTok censors users on topics like China‘s socialist system or history of local countries. This is if TikTok finds that the content is ‘twisting the history’ or spreading criticism. The severity of the ban depends on what rule TikTok considers broken.
So is TikTok over?
In short, it’s hard to say whether or not a TikTok ban would be justifiable, or actually happening.
Of course, cybersecurity is vastly important to our society. However, this threat of a TikTok ban is not so altruistic; it’s not just for the American people.
A ban would devastate hundreds of thousands of creators on the app, and even more who just enjoy content alone.
No, this is also due to the tense foreign relations at the moment. Unfortunately, what will happen with this tension still remains to be seen.
In the meanwhile, though, enjoy your TikTok and maybe ours too. There’s still some time.