Is the U.S. on the Verge of Banning TikTok?

The TikTok app has become increasingly popular, with over two billion downloads and 315 million downloads in the first three months of 2020 alone. This seemingly fun-loving social media platform gives users an outlet to express themselves through singing, dancing, comedy, and lip-syncing. The app has helped produce online superstars like Charlie D’Amelio (68 M followers), and attracted existing stars like Will Smith (30 M followers). 

Charlie D’Amelio shows Jimmy Fallon a TikTok dance

Generation Z was the early adopter of the social media platform, with Millennials soon following. And once a sizable audience formed, advertiser’s began jumping on board to take advantage of influencer marketing, brand channels, and paid ad campaigns. But, perhaps not all users of the app are aware, or care that the it’s owned by a Beijing-based startup called Bytedance; TikTok is actually the first Chinese social media platform to gain significant popularity with users in other countries. 

What’s All the Fuss About?

On Monday (July 6, 2020), the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US is “looking at” banning TikTok, adding, “we’re taking this very seriously…we have worked on this very issue for a long time”. 

The gist is that the US is questioning what China is doing with users of the app’s data. Tik Tok has been increasingly criticized by US politicians as a threat to national security because of its ties to China, with leaders saying the app could be compelled to “support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.” Washington’s highest diplomat took it a step further, stating that someone should only download the app “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” While TikTok might bring laughs to the masses, some politicians have their sights set on doing away with the app. 

Other Countries Are Taking Action. 

It’s not just the United States, TikTok is facing a backlash in countries around the world. The app’s largest market, India, officially banned it in the country due to security concerns, along with 58 other Chinese apps. Pompeo and former US Ambassador Nikki Haley both expressed that they were glad to see India putting a ban on the app/s. Australia also voiced its concerns on Monday, with the country’s deputy chairman of the foreign interference through social media inquiry saying TikTok may be “a data collection service disguised as social media”. 

The App Continues to Defend Itself.

A TikTok spokesperson stated that the app is led by an American CEO and there are some hundreds of employees across the US that work with the safety and security of the platform. The app has also claimed that its data centers are all entirely outside of China and that none of the data is subject to Chinese law, going on to say, US user data is stored in the United States, with a backup in Singapore. Many people across the internet have questioned whether TikTok is under heat solely because of security concerts, or if the heightened tensions between the US and China has a greater part to play.