TikTok should not be banned in the U.S.


TikTok should be available to Americans as privacy concerns continue to be addressed. (Courtesy of Flickr through Creative Commons)

Alessandro Lisa, Opinions Writer

TikTok is a social media app that 150 million Americans have used. The app is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese technology company that has attracted many concerns relating to privacy and data security. The future of TikTok is in jeopardy, as Congress is currently debating whether to ban it.  

Members of Congress view TikTok as a national threat. They believe that China and the communist party are using the platform to track the private data of U.S. citizens, including location and IP address. They also argue that the platform is promoting harmful material such as suicide, self-harm, or negative messages regarding body image. “I wouldn’t say the trends are a problem with TikTok-more so with the users who sensationalize danger and veil it as a fun “challenge” that children should try at home. There’s a fine line to be careful of there, and if TikTok were to remove every trend that could potentially escalate, then the freedom of the users would be over-restricted,” freshman Cindy Jin said.

What these members of Congress neglect to acknowledge is that these issues apply to any social media platform. From YouTube Shorts to Instagram Reels, most platforms use an algorithm to produce content recommendations to keep their users engaged. “Every social media platform or even website on the internet tracks their users’ data. The only difference is that TikTok is owned by China, therefore bringing up censorship concerns,” Jin said. 

Although the fear of China possessing data of U.S. citizens is present, it isn’t as big of a concern as it seems. That said, TikTok users and their parents should be aware of the safety concerns applicable to any social media platform and openly discuss the rules for social media usage in their households. “People need to be aware of what they are posting because it can never be fully erased. I do not see why TikTok should be punished for users failing to see the impact of their actions,” freshman Oren Egnal said.

In addition, the developers of TikTok are working towards improving security issues on the site. Not only does the app ask for permission to access various information, like your contacts, but it is also currently working on Project Texas, a new entity that centralizes the data that TikTok collects in the United States. An American company, Oracle, will oversee the data that enters and exits the entity to maintain security for all American citizens.  

Although TikTok definitely has some downsides, it does not deserve to be banned. TikTok and similar platforms should impose stricter and more effective age-restriction policies to decrease negative effects on younger children, but there is no reason to prevent America from browsing a source of entertainment, no matter where it comes from.