VIEWS: TikTok ban is bittersweet necessity

The TikTok Head of the United States Trust and Safety Eric Han left his post on May 12 as national pressure to ban the app for all users in the U.S. stays strong among government officials.

On March 15, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to ban TikTok on all government devices.

Prior to that, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law in December that would ban TikTok on all federal government-issued devices.

Would it be a good idea to ban TikTok from all U.S. devices?

TikTok is a video-sharing company that has proven to be a worthy competitor for social media dominance, with a TikTok user spending 95 minutes a day on the app, more than any other social media daily average. 

This has resulted in video-sharing giants creating their own version of short video content, such as Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts to compete in the new and addictive video-sharing feature.

Here is why a TikTok ban could be a difficult necessity to come to terms with.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a company with ties to high-profile characters in the Chinese Communist Party, the ruling party of The People’s Republic of China.

This should already raise some alarms to Americans, as China and the U.S. are locked in a tight battle for international diplomatic and economic influence. 

TikTok is proven to be on the side of the Chinese, with many instances of spying on U.S. user data as Americans get more addicted to the app.

There have been various leaks, notably audio from 80 TikTok employee meetings that proved TikTok employees sent U.S. user data to China in 2022.

Moreover, the IP addresses of two journalists’ from the American media company BuzzFeed and Britain's Financial Times were obtained by ByteDance. IP addresses show the geolocation of its user, and four TikTok employees were fired as a result of the data breach.

Due to mounting evidence of potential TikTok surveillance on U.S. users, Congress held a TikTok hearing onMarch 23 to question CEO Shou Zi Chew on whether the app taking U.S. user data to China is credible and leads to psychological and even physical harm to American teens

He denied the various accounts as false, and dismissed what some members of Congress called “spying” on U.S. data.

The Congressional committee rightfully questioned Chew vigorously on TikTok’s specific algorithm in the U.S. and why China has its own version of TikTok called Douyin

The fact that China has a different version of the app that doesn’t show all the ridiculous dance trends and challenges that we see in the U.S. while infiltrating our data proves that TikTok is on the side of our economic enemy. 

It’s taking the long shot approach, and wishes to make the American public an idiotic group of addicted, slow-minded TikTok users, all while making the Chinese public an ever so smarter and intellectually capable populace by severely limiting their access to useless content in Douyin, specifically limiting daily access to users under 14 to 40 minutes a day, unseen on TikTok in the U.S.

History has proven that the smarter a country’s population is, the more power it can exert on the international stage.

It’s an ingenious move, and the average American has fallen into this dopamine trap of constant scrolling hours on end through TikTok’s thirst trap videos and extravagant pranks.

Our adolescents and young adults have fallen to it, as users aged 10-19 make up the largest age group of TikTok users in the U.S.

Luckily, the members of Congress stood together as a bipartisan entity to put TikTok’s alleged spying and influence on the lives of U.S. citizens, specifically adolescents, in the spotlight.

"Welcome to the most bipartisan committee in Congress,” said Buddy Carter, a Republican lawmaker of Georgia. “I don't speak for everyone, but there are those on this committee, including myself, who believe that the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in psychological warfare through TikTok to deliberately influence U.S. children."

Some say that their motivation is to increase money flow at the expense of young Americans.

"TikTok could be designed to minimize the harm to kids, but a decision was made to aggressively addict kids in the name of profits,” said Kathy Castor, a Democratic lawmaker of Florida.

TikTok is not the only social media app that is surrounded by a haze of psychological warfare and user spying. Meta, an American company formerly known as Facebook and controls both Facebook and Instagram, has been under the watchful eye of the U.S. government for spying on American user data in the past. Currently, TikTok is only being banned on Federal and some State-issued devices. 

However, with TikTok’s allegations of data spying for the Chinese government stacking against them, a TikTok ban is necessary to protect U.S. citizens' data, society and national security.

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