As a social media platform for creating, sharing, and discovering short looped music videos, TikTok is a name now known around the world. The Chinese-owned video-sharing app has up to eighty million daily users in the US alone, and more than two billion all-time downloads. In 2019, it was the second most downloaded app worldwide, just behind the famous Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp. However, while the Chinese app was becoming more & more popular throughout the world, questions & concerns about its data usage were also growing, especially after the app was caught accessing clipboard data on devices, which means the company invaded its user's privacy by accessing their personal messages, media, passwords, cryptocurrency wallet, and more. Therefore, in order to protect U.S. users from the exploitation of their personal data, U.S. President Donald Trump has officially given the company 90 days to either sell or spin-off its #TikTok business in the U.S.A. or else it would be banned from the country. According to Washington, the basis for this ban concerns worries that Tik Tok users' data could be shared with the Chinese government and that content could be censored if it's not in line with China’s Government and Communist Party directives and commands.
President Trump is not the only one who has demonstrated concern about the data TikTok may collect & share. Organizations like Amazon, Wells Fargo, US Navy, US Army, US Air Force, Coast Guard, US Marine Corps, Homeland Security, TSA, and more, have banned TikTok and unauthorized their members to have the app downloaded on their devices. Now the next question is: if we had nothing to worry about, why would these big organizations take the time to ban the app? U.S. officials have frequently raised questions about national security due to Chinese intellectual property theft since similar strategies in the past have cost the U.S. economy thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in national revenue.
Lawmakers on both sides have held concerns and warned that the app could pose a national security risk, and have been calling on intelligence agencies and regulators for an investigation into TikTok's ties to the Chinese Communist Party. Senators Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton have said in a statement that the app could be used to spy on US citizens, or even potentially become targets of foreign influence in the presidential election. Considering TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, is based in China, it potentially has reason "to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party," the two senators said. It was also suggested that TikTok's platform has been censoring content that is not in line with China’s Government and Communist Party directives and commands. Even though the company has been a bit hush-hush about all of these allegations, they did release a short statement saying, “We have never been asked by the Chinese government to remove any content and we would not do so if asked”.
Even though this media platform has given another creative stage for creators & businesses to share unique content with their community, it's important to know why the app is collecting your data, and how they're using that information. That being said, the future of TikTok in the United States is still a little unclear as we wait to see if the company will be able to sell or spin-off the app in America. Until then, be careful with the apps you download & protect your data... your privacy belongs to you!
Authors: Nikki Ghamami & Sabrina Araújo Chamberlain