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What is the TikTok Ban Really About?

by Charles Arencibia

(Dreamstime/TNS/subscription by Tribune News Service)

The popular video-sharing app, TikTok, has been under attack by the United States legislature. The House passed a bill on March 13 that would entail a national ban on TikTok. It passed with a vote of 352-65.

The recent decision comes from congressional concerns regarding the ByteDance company's ties to the Chinese government. The Chinese Communist Party emphasizes their sovereignty over Chinese companies' data and control. It may be understood that the United States government is concerned about national security due to TikTok’s being beholden to a foreign country, it may seem like a random decision since TikTok has been around for so long.

TikTok is the 5th largest social media platform with roughly 1 billion monthly users worldwide according to Statista. With such an enormous amount of the internet user pool (about 20% of the 4.8 billion internet users), it is clear that TikTok has a massive scope. The average time spent on TikTok by users is nearly an hour per day, so it is not surprising that TikTok affects the political views of the over 100 million monthly active users from the United States.

via Statista

There are 332 million Americans, and roughly 30% of the population is plugged into TikTok, according to Statista. Ostensibly, the U.S. is just trying to prevent foreign influence, but upon further inspection, it looks like it could be motivated by support for Israel.

The Chinese government has firmly stated support for the Palestinian people, which is directly in opposition to the United States' support for Israel. While China has not confronted Israel directly it is clear that Republicans don’t view support for Palestine favorably.

TikTok has an incentive to promote videos that are in support of Palestine with many popular hashtags with pro-Palestine slogans. Lawmakers have used this as a reason for banning TikTok, declaring it antisemitic as Ted Cruz and Nikki Haley have mentioned.

Despite the mainstream assumptions, TikTok could be receiving a ban for its association with China’s anti-Israel stance.

Student Reaction

A major demographic who uses TikTok is Gen Zers, or Columbus’ student age group. But, some students aren’t worried about losing TikTok.

“I think someone is going to step up and invest in it so I am not worried,” said senior Lucas Alonso.

The general consensus is that students would be upset if the app is banned and many actually look to parents for the blame.

“I wouldn't like (the ban). I use the app a lot. I think that the ban is stupid because it is stupid because it is mostly parents' fault for letting children use the app in the first place,” said senior Alexander Bao. 

Still, some students see the faults in TikTok, including the fact it is time-consuming and the addicting algorithm. But senior Angelo Azzaretto thinks it should be up to the consumer to assume the potential risks of using the app. 

“I deleted TikTok because it is too addicting. I don’t think the ban is necessary because if you are scared of infiltrating data, just don’t use the app. If you are a scared person, just don’t use it,” he said.

The country waits as its leaders decide the future of the popular app. 

Do you support the TikTok potential ban?

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