Wildly popular TikTok app faces potential ban

By Macy Li

Over the past few years, teens from all across the world have fallen in love with TikTok, an app that has redefined internet culture and social interaction among Generation Z. 

TikTok is known for its whirlwind of viral challenges, trending dances and humorous comedy skits. It has also become a popular platform for teen activism, as younger users have begun advocating for change and spreading messages through their posts. 

TikTok is known for its whirlwind of viral challenges, trending dances and humorous comedy skits. (Illustration by Dan Penalosa)

For instance, TikTok users have utilized their platform to pursue progessive politics in opposition to the President, Forbes reported. Additionally, they widely promoted the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

However, TikTok’s rising popularity has also generated concerns about the privacy of its many users, largely due to the fact that the app is owned by a prominent Chinese company called ByteDance. This connection worries U.S. officials that the Chinese government has to users’ personal data and content moderation, Business Insider reported.

In early July, the Trump administration announced that it was considering banning TikTok in the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal. Additionally, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo advised Americans to avoid downloading all Chinese-owned apps, if they didn’t want “their private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” 

In response to these suspicions, ByteDance appointed a new CEO for TikTok Kevin Mayer an American ex-Disney streaming executive, according to Business Insider

Tiktok users have reacted with both panic and anger to this potential ban. Many of them have also stated that they believe there are more underlying motives behind these officials’ decisions.

“To my understanding, the Trump administration is considering a ban on TikTok because of security reasons. However, there seems to be other factors involved,” sophomore Ayaka Fujita said in a phone interview. “The majority of the younger generation using the app is democratic, and there is a lot of anti-Trump content on TikTok.”

Ultimately, TikTok has become an outlet for both creative and political expression among Generation Z, especially during the months of social distancing. For many students, this app has shaped who they are as teenagers, and losing it would be like losing a part of themselves.”

Fujita said users attempted to sabotage Trump’s Tulsa rally in June by posting videos that encouraged viewers to purchase tickets without actually attending. 

“Trump also seems to want to ‘punish’ China for the coronavirus,” Fujita said. “I read that he said TikTok is ‘a big business … what happened with China with the virus, [as well as] what they’ve done to this country and the entire world is disgraceful.’” 

While sophomore Alan Jian said he does not support the Trump administration’s consideration of a ban for similar reasons, he still believes their actions are somewhat reasonable. 

“Every social media app can get a hold of their users’ personal data, just like TikTok, so I don’t think banning the app is necessary for America’s public safety. On the other hand, China has banned pretty much all of America’s social media apps,” Jian said in an email. “So, the Trump administration’s decision doesn’t feel too out of place or outrageous.” 

Ultimately, TikTok has become an outlet for both creative and political expression among Generation Z, especially during the months of social distancing. For many students, this app has shaped who they are as teenagers, and losing it would be like losing a part of themselves.

“Everyday, I’m greeted with videos that make me smile or laugh, or with videos that I’m super interested in,” sophomore Katelyn Yap said. “TikTok is a source of entertainment for me, and it helps me relieve stress and relax. I would hate to lose TikTok, because this app genuinely makes me happy.”

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