The United States is looking to potentially ban certain social media apps that come from China in an attempt to increase security access between the two countries. The main app that’s in question is Tik Tok, and according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the administration is taking this matter “very seriously.”
Tik Tok alone has become one of the most popular social media apps on the internet currently. The free platform allows users to make videos that are up to a minute long and edit them with intricate filters, sound effects, music, graphics, and more. The feed algorithm on the app allows users timelines to be filled with content Tik Tok thinks you’ll like based on other posts you’ve liked and who you follow.
This specific algorithm is one of the reasons that Tik Tok has grown so much in popularity within the past year, as users can have any sort of interest and likely find a hashtag/page geared towards it. However, Pompeo made it clear in an interview with Fox News that Tik Tok was the administration’s number one priority in terms of platforms to potentially ban.
Pompeo also went onto state that smartphone users should only download the app if “you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” however, a spokesperson working for Tik Tok in America was quick to refute these claims that the app gives personal information to the Chinese government.
“TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the US. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”‘
The United States and China have been experiencing major tensions within the past few years in general. These recent remarks from Pompeo are likely a direct result of that as well. National security, trade, and technology was at the center of all tensions between the two nation’s governments, and once Covid-19 became an issue that stemmed from a market in China, the pressure began to boil over.
Tik Tok is in fact owned by a Beijing-based startup company known as ByteDance, and has been often criticized by the US government for being a potential threat to national security due to its ties to China. Once again, the administration has been quoted multiple times alleging that the company “could be compelled to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,” despite there being no evidence to prove that.
Tik Tok has made statements in the past regarding security and claims that the company operates through data centers located outside of China, so none of the data is subject to Chinese law. Data for US users specifically is stored in the US with backups in Singapore, according to the company. This past May an executive spokesperson claimed that “the national security concerns are unfounded.”
India’s government has also claimed they would ban Tik Tok and other Chinese apps due to a posed “threat to sovereignty and integrity,” which also likely fueled the US to follow suit. With over 40 million American users, however, it’s likely the app won’t be going anywhere without a good fight from social media users across the country.