What is TikTok?
TikTok is a social media platform that started off as a “lip-syncing” app. It has grown to be one of the most popular social media platforms (especially with teenagers) with an estimated 65 million active U.S. users. With comparisons commonly made to Vine, people can share short videos that are set to popular songs or sound clips. The short hits of dopamine and viral possibilities make it addicting and easy to spend hours a day scrolling through. The app provides endless amounts of content. You can follow and watching your friend’s content like other social media apps. However, you can also perusing through the “for you” page, which features random videos specifically picked out for you for sole entertainment.
Why Are People Worried About It?
The app has been criticized for its privacy and security. It is owned by China’s ByteDance, causing many people to be cautious of their privacy and information. Despite an international shareholder, TikTok has headquarters in the U.S. and the company has an American CEO, former Disney Executive Kevin Mayer. However, it’s not just the foreign presence that is making people nervous as TikTok’s past hasn’t been free of problems. In 2019 they settled for $5.7 million with the Federal Trade Commission over accusations for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, by collecting information on users who are under the age of 13. They also were part of a group of about 50 other apps guilty of copying data from iPhones clipboards. Because of TikTok’s previous allegations, the potential risks it possess in data collection, censorship, and disinformation is what is making people worried.
What Should You Do?
As of right now, no employee of the United States, officer of the United States, Member of Congress, congressional employee, or officer or employee of a government corporation or US Military may download or use TikTok or any successor application developed by ByteDance or any entity owned by ByteDance on any device issued by the United States or government corporation. Currently the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Army have also banned the app on employee phones.
TikTok along with dozens of other China-linked apps were banned in India last month over what the government said were national security concerns.
Last week Amazon also sent out an email to employees that asked them to remove it from their devices but later walked back that statement saying the email was an error.