TikTok Ban in the US

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    The popular social media app, TikTok, is in a current government debate about safety concerns.The app is popular among all ages and interests. (photo courtesy of public domain)

    TikTok has created debates due to the concern of safety within the app’s company. TikTok is a social media platform used to create and share short videos for a variety of interests. The app can be seen as a form of entertainment, advertising, income or informing. 

    There is concern over Tiktok’s parent company, ByteDance, sharing user data with the Chinese communist government. The Chinese government previously passed a law that required companies to give the government any personal information on users relevant to the country’s safety. That allowed the government to use TikTok user information as they saw fit. 

    TikTok collects a variety of information about each individual user, including personal information and exact locations.

    Some argue that TikTok is just like any other social media app, in the sense that they all collect data on users. But the difference between TikTok and other social media apps is the owner of the company. If TikTok was an American owned company, there would not be a debate to ban it. 

    India completely banned TikTok in 2020. Canada, the US, and the UK have officially blocked the social media app on government devices. 

    Although this issue was also brought to the attention of the US government in 2020, there was no action. The first step the United States government took to control the issue was in late 2022. Biden signed legislation to prohibit TikTok on Federal government devices. 

    Many states have also followed this by banning TikTok on state government devices. 

    Montana became the first state to officially pass a full ban on TikTok. The bill was passed onto Governor Greg Gianforte who now has the authority to sign it into a bill. The law would go into effect in January 2024, but there is expected to be a federal court challenge on the issue before 2024. 

    Banning TikTok would cause app stores, like Apple and Google, from having TikTok on their platform. Users who previously downloaded the app may keep the app but overtime updates will be denied. 

    China has reacted to the discussion of banning TikTok by accusing the US of spreading false information and overreacting. 

    Banning TikTok will not be an easy decision because of the app’s popularity and influence on modern society. There are arguments that banning it would be against the First Amendment, freedom of speech and expression.

    Some creators and influencers use the app as a source of income by being part of the TikTok Creator Fund. The social media app also provides educational opportunities shown in videos. Like most forms of social media, it continues to be a way to communicate and express yourself. 

    Many teens use the app as a form of entertainment and interacting. Research shows that ⅔ of teenagers across America are on TikTok for a variety of reasons and interests. 

    “I enjoy watching tv shows on TikTok and I also like watching little educational videos, those are interesting to me,” said Carson Thorne, sophomore. 

    Teenagers find a difficult time in balancing their responsibilities along with the amount of time they spend scrolling through TikTok. The majority of teenagers are not worried about the amount of information TikTok has on them, but rather if the TikTok ban would be good for them and their mental health. 

    “I feel like TikTok cures my boredom but is not very healthy for me,” said Thorne.

    Some teenagers may find the elimination of TikTok beneficial, they will have more time to be productive and live in the moment. Other teenagers may find, previously a large part of their lives, now nonexistent. 

    “If TikTok was not in my life I wouldn’t have anything to do, it would be boring,” said Riley Myers, junior. 

    But Thorne said, “TikTok not being in my life would start off as a challenge but make me extremely productive.”

    Factors ranging from mental health to safety and income will have an influence on the government’s decision on how to handle the current TikTok controversy. This debate will continue to stay a strong topic due to the amount of influence it plays on users’ lives. 

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