The Potential Downfall of TikTok

Haley Davis, Lead Editor

We all know what TikTok is. We all probably use it, and it seems to have taken the world by storm in recent years. Celebrities, journalists, students, and even political figures have taken to TikTok for one reason or another. With the apps seemingly ubiquitous success, why then, is it at risk for getting banned?

To understand this, it is essential to understand where it came from, and how this affects the current situation the app finds itself in today. The creation of Tik Tok can be traced back to Zhang Yiming. After multiple startups, his company ByteDance purchased Musically. It was then merged into the company’s own lip-syncing app, known as Douyin. The result of this synthesis of platforms marked the creation of Tik Tok. Zhang Yiming brought to TikTok his impressive algorithm which now exists in the app, leading to the app’s runaway success shortly after launch. With the success of Tik Tok and its substantial 16.2 billion-dollar fortune, this brings up the question, why would it potentially be banned in the United States when it’s bringing entertainment to millions. The answer to this question lies not in the app itself, but rather where it came from, China. 

The main concern centers around the way the app takes data from its users, and specifically about the Chinese Government getting access to information that could threaten national security, foreign affairs, and the economy. Being a Beijing company, ByteDance is subject to Chinese law which requires all data collected by companies to be freely and openly shared with the Chinese government. That is why the app is not allowed to be used by members of the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, and the United States Armed Forces. The government of India recently shared similar fears when they decided to implement a ban on the app due to national security concerns. 

The American government isn’t against the app in totality. Donald Trump recently showed support towards multiple American tech companies attempting to purchase Tik Tok from the Chinese company. Well known companies including Microsoft and Oracle Corp. are in the process of trying to pursue a deal with ByteDance, aiming to wrap it up by September. In short, Tik Tok is the center of a national debate by no fault of its own, rather because it is inherently perceived as a threat because of where it is from.