Should The U.S. Ban TikTok?


The International Strain: TikTok

By Michael Casarez

Since its creation in 2016, the Chinese multibillion dollar company, TikTok has stood as a symbol of international relations. Its popularity, primarily in the United States, has represented a sign of peace between two economic powerhouses. However, with new federal discoveries, that diplomatic relationship is beginning to wane.
The United States federal government recently found evidence of issues labeled as “national security” and “data privacy.” This fact alone arouses suspicion in the app and its intentions. Some nations have responded hastily to this, including Belgium, Denmark and Canada, who banned the app on all government – issued devices.
Governments should emphasize their citizens’ independence and liberties, which does not include having third – party systems furtively extracting information from users.
It’s comprehensible that some apps, such as TikTok, are meant to be enjoyed, but think about what kind of data the company is extracting, and why do they need it?
This kind of activity infringes on the privacy rights granted by the American Constitution as well. The United States should ban TikTok for its violation of moral and societal tolerations. It has consistently proven to take users’ data for ambiguous reasons. For example, according to Time Magazine, the company even passed updates to allow itself to gather one’s voiceprints and face scans, including other forms of biometric data. However, the national government’s reason for a penalty has been more political.
The government is concerned that China would impose location and browser history readers and use such information to send libel and propaganda. The stain this leaves on the American – Chinese international relation is clear, as many officials are wary of the Chinese government’s ability to publicize such data.
The Chinese parent company of TikTok, known as ByteDance, has significantly augmented its efforts to increase its American audience in light of the diminishing diplomacy between nations. Furthermore, according to Oberlo, they are attempting to primarily persuade a global group of patrons between 18 and 34. The aforementioned group is especially susceptible to distractions from social media, but this age group typically includes many collegiate students, which concerns the FBI as well, since the possibility of propaganda being sent remains unknown. The organization consistently warned the public about the potential political intentions that could be implemented in the app.
It’s for this reason skepticism has arisen around the app and many world leaders are calling into question its necessity, including the European Union and the United States. Forbes stated that even one of China’s closest neighbors, India, has imposed bans on several Chinese social media apps, entailing TikTok.
The world market between the United States and China has always been a battleground for the economic aspirations of both parties. The high – level competition to increase imports and exports is conspicuous, but while, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, the U.S. imports primarily from China, the main imports in China come from the European Union, leaving America in second place. This is sure to frustrate many economists who have been worried about China’s growing national wealth and influence, as compared to the United States’.
These reasons, both economically and politically, provide sound evidence in support of the ban on TikTok, which numerous nations have already done. The United States should partake as well, lest the app utilize one’s data unknowingly for its personal benefit.

Tiktok: Don’t Ban the Clock

By Taneisha Martínez

Recent national security concerns about TikTok, have led to the discussion of banning the social media app on all U.S. devices.
The U.S. government worries about what TikTok’s Chinese internet parent company, ByteDance, could be using user data for. They fear the sharing of confidential information with foreign officials. Essentially, holding the concern the app could be invaded or accessed by the Chinese government at any given time.
Surprisingly, this is not the first time this phenomenon has occurred. This is the second instance wherein Tiktok’s users have been threatened by a ban. In 2020, former President Trump’s administration had Tiktokers overly emotional, posting teary-eyed farewells, and urging users to follow them on unrelated platforms (Thriller, Instagram, and other apps that imitate its concept). Tiktok was said to be banned if the app wasn’t sold to a US-based company. However, Trump was turned down by the Biden Administration, and his efforts were blocked by the Courts; his attempt was futile. Even so, it didn’t end there. It was an on-and-off affair that went on for a while; the whole ordeal, parallel to Aesop’s fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” What’s changed?
In December 2022, Congress passed the banning of Tik Tok on all government-based devices. And now the ban wants to be fully extended to all American users. However, this action (rightfully so) has caused a big uproar. It’s been said to oppose and violate the First Amendment.
A question stands; do the security concerns overshadow the decimation of speech that the removal of users’ relation to Tiktok will produce?
It’s been both proven and established that American and foreign adversaries or ‘entities’ can buy elaborate profiles on practically anyone who has an online presence. Those who act in accordance with the ban always argue that the amount of information TikTok collects is more concerning than any other. Arguing, a ban on TikTok would solve our national security concerns. However, the abuse and exploitation of data collected prove true to U.S.-based tech companies alike, sharing the same business practices. TikTok is undeniably not the only app that has access to data. I mean, EVERYTHING we do on our phones; which is personal data collected from our digital lives that can be used by foreign adversaries, is available to every social media application we have downloaded or accessed. According to The University of Toronto’s nonprofit Citizen Lab, Facebook collects similar amounts, including identifiers that can be used to track users, that can piece together the individual behaviors across platforms. Apps and platforms that are too, willing to share the information with those who are willing to pay. User’s security and data privacy be doomed.
This doesn’t suggest that everyone is unburdened with concern about the extensive level of data assemblage that apps make and share. More so, it’s to question the general negligence to address apprehension.
Should this mean we should stray far and sidestep using every social media app? No. That’d be absurd. At this point, you’d have more luck finding one who has an online presence than an out-of-touch individual; similar to witnessing a blue moon.
So why are we censoring the internet? Why are people so on board with the banning of TikTok, when it’s the lack of censorship we so proudly stand for, and criticize others for practicing?
It’s an extreme action to ban the platform that’s served as a communication medium for many. There is no actual present evidence of China using the data stored from TikTok for its advantage; it’s all based on assumptions and ‘warranted” scrutiny. Furthermore, Tiktok, as we know, is NOT the only platform that can be utilized to spread or push misinformation or propaganda to its users. It is not the sole perpetrator, yet it’s the only one that thus far has been differentiated. There is disinformation spread all through media platforms; the issue itself is not the disinformation or propaganda spread, (although it does partake within) but the user’s ability to halt and not consume all they are presented with as the truth. Millions have spread propaganda on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, (emphasis on Twitter) yet there have been no actions to stop or put an end to it. Who’s to say china, can’t access the users through said platforms? No work will be too much if their ultimate goal is to break down America. This poses the question: Does the U.S. actually want to protect Americans from surveillance? If so, it’s clear banning TikTok isn’t necessarily the way to do so. Instead, they should reform a privacy law that forbids corporations, companies, or social media platforms from collecting our sensitive data. Privacy laws that restrict the sharing of data that aren’t exclusive to TikTok.
Less strict regulations and impediments should subsequently be accounted for or considered. Alternatives can be taken other than an outright ban on the platform. Otherwise, what does this say about what the U.S. government or the restrictions they can make hereafter? Will the government’s approach to a better assessment of its citizens’ data protection ever be done? Will they only take action when concerns involve foreign companies as the issue? If so, it’s clear a ban would only act as discriminatory suppression to the opposing company not directly operated and or owned by the U.S. And, most importantly, what will happen to TikTok users? Will they be forced to migrate to Youtube Shorts and Instagram Reels? It’s hard to deny that both are awful second-rate options nobody likes and are about as appealing as dirty laundry. Both are akin to having to choose between a rock and a hard place. Which, in itself is the most unfortunate thing to come out of this; what terrible fate.