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You Should be Worried about What TikTok Could be Next

 

In the video Op-Ed above, a group of highly influential TikTokers from around the country, with followers in the millions, demonstrate that the platform is more than cringy video for and by teenagers. It’s the most downloaded app and nearly 100 million Americans use it for a range of things — like political organizing and learning about beekeeping — and even boomers and educators are on the app. It’s also just fun.

Forcing a sale of the app
Forcing a sale of the app is a show of power, but it doesn’t really protect your privacy.

Why You Should Care About TikTok

Forcing a sale of the app is a show of power, but it doesn’t really protect your privacy.

“Good morning, y’all. It’s Charli.” “Playing a little catch with myself.” There are roughly a hundred million Americans who regularly use TikTok, the social media app where you can create and share short videos on everything, from dancing to coding. But our government claims it’s dangerous since it’s owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company.

“President Trump said he will ban TikTok here in the United States, unless it is able to agree to a sale.” You may be thinking, who cares? But for us, TikTok is so much more than just another app. “Hey guys, a lot of you have been asking for a hair tutorial. So first, we’re going to arrest Breonna Taylor’s murderers.” I was angry and I knew I needed to speak out. Through TikTok alone, I’ve registered thousands of people to vote in the past few months. “Things people don’t understand about the dark web.” I started posting videos for fun under quarantine, about technology and cybersecurity. I post videos of slapstick comedy.

TikTok opened so many doors for me. It’s my career. “Gimme some!” [MUSIC] “Ow! Ow! You’re not supposed to really hit me!” “Oh!” TikTok is huge. It’s the most downloaded app. Ordering TikTok to be sold to an American company actually worries me. A sale doesn’t guarantee that it will be kept intact or that the algorithm will be included. Without the algorithm the entire use experience will be changed. Trump claims a sale is meant to protect our data. But it’s really the government dictating how we are allowed to use the internet while they pretend like they’re protecting us. Let’s back up a bit. “Back it up, back, back it up. Back it up—” What is TikTok, anyways? “TikTok is very successful. It’s an amazing thing, whatever it may be.” O.K. Everybody thinks TikTok is just dancing preteens or kids doing weird stuff, like— “TikTok famous! Ah!” “Mi Pan, (SCATTING).” But it’s so much more than that.

Those hit songs you listened to in the past year? These ones? “I’m going to ride horse down to the old town road” “I’m a savage.” —a lot of them blew up because of TikTok. TikTok creators are influential comedians and activists and dancers and singers and doctors. And even people who support the president. “Because I am pro-America, I support someone who is pro-America.” In the midst of a global pandemic, amongst other serious domestic issues, why does the government care about an app? Maybe it’s because some TikTokers claim to have pranked the president, and it hurt his feelings. “the fallout this morning from President Trump’s more than half empty rally in Tulsa. Did TikTok teens help spoil the president’s return to the campaign trail?” Or because he wants to appear tough on China. Or maybe it’s because the government is worried the TikTok will allow China to collect American data. Do I have concerns about app security, and about TikTok specifically? I think about this all the time. Absolutely yes. I’ve even made videos on TikTok calling out and denouncing China’s horrific human rights record. I understand why we should be concerned.

Despite the fact that American intelligence found no evidence that TikTok was sharing data with the Chinese government, and TikTok claims it stores the data outside of China— We should keep a close eye on the company. But we should also be keeping an eye on all tech companies, including American ones. Forcing a sale of this one app doesn’t solve our overall privacy problems. Even if you don’t care about us, you should care how this is an attack on self-expression, and abuse of power, and an attempt to limit what we can access on the internet. Right now, it’s TikTok. What’s next?

Maybe you first learned about TikTok when your kids tried to teach you the Toosie Slide, or when you came across a kinetic Charli D’Amelio video that got millions of likes. Or was it when your nephew started a small fire because of the “outlet challenge?” In any case, you’ve definitely heard that President Trump was intent on banning it and forced it to make a deal with an American company. But who really cares about an app — used mostly by Gen Z?

You, for one, should.

In the video Op-Ed above, a group of highly influential TikTokers from around the country, with followers in the millions, demonstrate that the platform is more than cringy video for and by teenagers. It’s the most downloaded app and nearly 100 million Americans use it for a range of things — like political organizing and learning about beekeeping — and even boomers and educators are on the app. It’s also just fun.

Like any social media platform, we should keep an eye on it. But that doesn’t mean this one app should be targeted — if anything, we should be paying closer attention to other companies, like Facebook.

Even if you still don’t care about what’s happening with TikTok, you should be worried about what could be next.

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