From dance challenges to cute pet videos, TikTok has quickly become one of the most-used apps because of its addictive nature. Over 800 million users have been drawn to TikTok and love the constant stream of entertaining content. Whether you love it or hate it, the app has gained a large following and has helped many get through quarantine boredom. Recently, many Americans were sent into a panic when President Donald Trump threatened to ban TikTok in the United States because it is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company. Trump fears that Chinese-owned apps pose a threat to national security because user data is being collected and could potentially be used for harm. There is fear that China will compromise TikTok users’ data by handing it over to the Communist Party, if asked. The United States government claims that Chinese hackers have been able to gain access to user data, including government organizations and credit bureaus.
To prevent a security breach, Trump has ordered that a US company must gain control of TikTok by September 15th, 2020, or else the app will be banned in the United States. So far, Microsoft has offered to purchase the app in order to satisfy the 100 million users in the US. However, even though he is the president, it will not be simple for Trump to ban TikTok in America. In order to remove the app from users’ phones, the government would have to deplatform TikTok from Apple’s IOS and Google. Banning the app would also require the US government to place TikTok on the Commerce Department’s list of foreign entities that pose a threat to the country. The American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU) has claimed that Trump’s order to ban the application is against free expression and overall ‘impractical.’ Additionally, Vanessa Pappas, TikTok US’s general manager, stated that the app is “not planning on going anywhere” and is “here for the long run.”
To improve security measures, TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer responded to the government’s concerns by claiming that TikTok will publicly disclose the app’s algorithms and data flows. Although it is currently uncertain whether Trump will move forward on his proposed ban, it is clear that there will be pushback against his efforts. TikTok seems to be continuing to improve their security and making sure that user data is protected. For now, users are free to continue making and watching their favorite videos. Hopefully so many people’s favorite app will continue to be available in the future!