Each week seems to bring with it new information surrounding the Chinese owned social media platform and ultra popular video generating app, TikTok. Will President Donald Trump ban all Americans from using the app? Perhaps he will just decide to remove it from app stores and phase it out. Maybe no action will be taken. It’s been quite a rollercoaster trying to keep up with what action will be taken against the foreign owned phenomenon.
Originally, rumors ran rampant that the president was looking to ban TikTok because he was personally offended by videos being made to discourage people from attending his rallies. Large media outlets like Forbes, Vox and the New York Times ran stories theorizing this. While it is surely true that the president didn’t appreciate the situation, his reason for considering a TikTok ban runs much deeper.
TikTok is a Chinese owned app that has access to an alarming amount of your data. By clicking on the app, you give them access to your location, phone contacts, social media contacts, age, type of device you use, browsing and search history, direct messages on the app and content you post on the app.
My initial reaction to this information was, “So what? Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have similar accesses.” Well, as long as the app has access to this information, Chinese government spies and hackers do, too.
Why does that matter? China can use that information to seek out national security plots through complex methods — ones I even have trouble fully understanding.
When you consider the fact that China is an intense geopolitical power and a communist-run government that places little value in human rights, this is not ideal.
Finding a solution to this problem is horribly complex. Banning the app hasn’t been done because it’s not as easy as it sounds, and it shouldn’t be. It is not necessarily within the power of the president to “ban” an app because publishing on an app can be considered speech, which cannot be banned for obvious reasons.
So what’s next? Well, the back and forth between President Trump, TikTok and China is bound to continue for an extended amount of time. At this point, personal action seems to be the only way to make a difference.
I am a long time TikTok maker and video watcher. I’ve loved the distraction and laughs that it has brought to my life since downloading it. However, using the app and handing over loads of information is an action that can potentially result in China gaining more power on the world stage.
China is currently being run by the Chinese Communist Party who monitor and control their citizens very strictly. According to Amnesty International, members of the LGBTQ community in China suffer discrimination, many people are condemned for practicing unpopular religion and human rights defenders are subjected to discrimination and harassment by authorities.
In 2020, a time when Americans have never been so focused on human rights, China is depriving many people of basic human rights each day. When we use TikTok, we potentially hand them more power in the form of information they may use to grow their ability to control citizens. It’s time to take that power back from them and stop using TikTok.
Anna Schmidt is a junior in mass communications and the opinion editor for the Collegian. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.