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The Potential Ban on TikTok

By Ainsley Jay

At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 the Chinese owned company TikTok became popular not just in China, but in America. Today 1 in 3 Americans use the app. TikTok became popular through making easy short videos with addictive audios.

In 2015 Musically, another social media platform similar to TikTok, gained popularity. In both apps people film short videos. Both TikTok and Musically are owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance, that develops apps. 

The U.S government views TikTok as a threat to national security. The U.S government fears TikTok using data from government employees or citizens. Their relationship stems from a variety of conflicts. In particular, the U.S and China have been in conflict for a while. China has been in conflict with Taiwan and claims it as their territory. The U.S sees it as an independent land. Another conflict is the U.S – China Trade war. America holds the largest economy, China is second. They both add tariffs onto one another’s goods to compete. A tariff is a tax on a country’s imported goods to another country.  

On December 30th, 2022, President Biden signed a bill banning TikTok on federal government devices. Any devices owned by an employee of the federal government would have TikTok banned on their device.  

Social media has become a way for people to get their news or spread propaganda. A recent report in the World Economic Forum found that half of adults from the age of 18- 29 trust their news source from social media. TikTok can create algorithms that can strongly influence the content users receive. Social media can be a way for people to get unreliable information and lead them into an untrue belief. 

But what does this mean for teenagers who become addicted to the app? There is no doubt that TikTok has influenced American culture, especially with the youth. We’ve seen in our school kids mimicking TikTok audios, and doing TikTok dances. I’ve seen kids zoned out mindlessly scrolling through TikTok. 

On March 23rd TikTok chief executive, Shou Zi Chew testified before the U.S Congress.  Although the hearing went on for five and a half hours, the house and energy commerce committee seemed unconvinced by the safety of TikTok. Throughout the hearing Shou Zi Chew was questioned about how the app allows videos about violence and mental health problems teens face on TikTok.

Michelle and Dean Nasca were parents who sued TikTok for the suicide of their 16 year old son Chase Nasca. The algorithm showed Chase disturbing videos about suicide on TikTok, leading their son to kill himself on Feburary 18th, 2022. This is just one incident of how TikTok algorithms led kids to die. There were other dangerous trends that have led to death. For example the blackout challenge was a trend where kids would see how long they could hold their breath for. Another one is the Benadryl challenge where kids overdose on benadryl. Through the hearing Shou Zi chew was questioned about the dangerous content allowed on TikTok. 

There are 20 states with a state government employee ban on TikTok. Meaning employees of the state government have TikTok banned on their devices. The number is likely to continue to grow.

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