Graphic courtesy of The New York Times.
Graphic courtesy of The New York Times.

TikTok takes over despite government ban

January 27, 2020

After the loss of Vine, Gen Z kids have turned to TikTok for their fix of short videos and viral dances. TikTok has quickly become one of the most popular video-sharing platforms for all age groups, but it’s creators remain ignored.

In early December, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) instructed members to delete the app TikTok. The app was deemed to be a cyber threat because it is owned by Chinese company ByteDance. By the end of the month, it was banned altogether for DOD members. 

An investigation into ByteDance, conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States within the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is ongoing. The national investigation raises many questions. Is TikTok a national threat? Are York TikTok users putting their privacy at risk? 

“I feel kind of creeped out,” junior Madison Sardo said. “It would make me not want to use TikTok ever again.”

Other students were scared of their privacy being breached, but they didn’t see the situation as different than concerns with other social media platforms. 

“Facebook has privacy issues too,” junior Megan Schlief said. “I assume that most apps threaten your privacy in some way, and I don’t think China knowing what I put on TikTok would hurt me in any way.”

However, senior Zach Reboletti sees the problem extending beyond his personal privacy.

“It’s not my own privacy I’m worried about, I don’t say or do anything that would matter,” Reboletti said. “It’s more about them seeing our country as a whole, and [posessing] the integrity that should come with these kinds of apps and data mining.” 

Another concern with the app is its censorship. Because ByteDance is a Chinese company, it abides by different free speech laws. The app has been accused of censorship for removing activism videos, especially those geared toward the Hong Kong protests.

“Personally, I don’t use TikTok,” junior Tommy Ryan said. “I don’t want to support an app that creeps on me and censors activism; it’s not right.” 

Senior Sean Solem has around 40,000 likes on TikTok. His main concern with the applies not with its cryptic creators but lies instead in the mountains of terms and conditions.

“Apps these days are taking our information and showing it to other companies,” Solem said. “I think it’s kind of frustrating because you never know what’s actually happening.”

Despite this, his point of view remains static: continuing with TikTok until the investigation is finalized. 

“I haven’t seen any evidence showing 100% that what the American government says is happening [actually is],” Solem said. “I should probably look into that more, but I say at the moment I’m staying on TikTok because that app smacks.”

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