Forum for student expression since 1977

The Patriot Press

Forum for student expression since 1977

The Patriot Press

Forum for student expression since 1977

The Patriot Press

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TikTok Ban: not justified

TikTok is an app of seconds-long videos with endless possibilities: funny pet videos, life-changing food hacks, and dances like the Renegade.

To teenagers, the escape from reality through the short-form entertainment of TikToks is the essence of the platform. To the dismay of U.S. legislators, TikTok, through its distant relationship with China, is an app covertly threatening national security.  

On March 13, the House of Representatives passed a bill to ban TikTok, a social media app popular among teenagers for high engagement yet concerns adults the most of all. 

Awaiting further approval by the Senate and the President of the United States, the ban would essentially force the Chinese owners of TikTok to either sell their platform to an American company or completely ban the use of TikTok in the U.S. 

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Bipartisan support for the ban is fueled by concerns that China could gain access to Americans’ data through TikTok and or use its influential algorithm to spread misinformation across the nation. 

As fellow teenagers and TikTok users, Liberty’s Journalism class assessed TikTok’s ban based on several factors. We ultimately concluded that it hardly had proper justifications and failed to acknowledge TikTok’s true harm to U.S. citizens. 

The ban solely rests on the basis that despite being a widely popular and successful app, TikTok is Chinese owned; however, putting this into perspective, a similar discriminatory perspective against people rather than an app would be considered an injustice.  

It feels like the government is extending its prejudice against China to more than just its status as a country. Now, companies are getting caught in the crossfire. 

“The motivation behind the ban feels somewhat xenophobic,” one senior writer said. 

TikTok is being targeted only because of its owners’ nationalities. While the ban is technically justified by the app’s potential for data collection against the U.S., several other American-owned social media companies are doing the same thing but aren’t being reprimanded like TikTok is. 

“If we banned TikTok, we should ask ourselves: what’s the difference between banning this app that collects information and continuing to use other apps like Meta that might be collecting information too?” one editorial board member said. “If we decide to ban TikTok, we need to evaluate all other apps too.” 

Evidently, the prohibition of TikTok fails to address the root of protecting Americans’ digital data. 

Additionally, while politicians are focusing on the potential for TikTok’s algorithm to spread propaganda, the algorithm is already affecting teenagers in more harmful ways. Why is mental health not a priority or substantial reason for the ban of TikTok? 

Teenagers across the nation are becoming addicted to TikTok’s short-form content. 

“The comparison between TikTok and Instagram reels shows that TikTok’s algorithm is much more engaging,” one editor said. 

“It’s very stimulating in a way that makes you want to keep chasing the dopamine,” one staff writer said. 

Even if the ban proceeds, it doesn’t guarantee a solution to the extensive grasp short-form content has on American teenagers. 

Hence, although teenagers are likely the most impacted by the possibility of the TikTok ban, the issues they face aren’t even being addressed with the legislation in pursuit. 

As the presidential election approaches this November, in theory, the voices of young adults should be heard more clearly. In reality, the election, filled with opposing viewpoints on the ban of TikTok, is proving to be rather unrepresentative of young voters’ interests. Many seniors and some juniors at Liberty are in difficult positions regarding their voting choices. 

“Both sides are looking at TikTok from the wrong perspective,” one senior writer said. “For them, it’s about national security, but when I think about social media, I look at the impacts it has on mental health and how social media companies are trying to exploit us.” 

As a result of this, some teenagers feel that TikTok’s ban is inessential to current politics. 

“If the priority of any politician is to ban TikTok, it would impact whether or not I trust them to handle issues in our government,” one senior writer said. 

And some feel that the ban is utterly uncharacteristic of the presidential candidates. 

“The ban won’t really affect how I vote,” one editorial board member said. “The candidates wanting to ban TikTok have switched, and it just feels like they are trying to collect votes by doing the opposite of what their opponent is doing.”  

Ultimately, the ban of TikTok, an app heavily tied to the lives of teenagers and young adults, lacks the intent to solve the actual issues of its users and is virtually perpetuating prejudice against another country. 

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/13/technology/tiktok-ban-law-congress.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/13/technology/tiktok-bill-whats-next.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/13/technology/tiktok-ban-house-vote.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/11/us/politics/trump-tiktok-ban-cnbc.html

 

About the Contributor
Hellen Chung
Hellen Chung, Opinion Editor
Hellen Chung is a junior at Liberty High School and Opinion Co-editor for the Patriot Press. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, binging TV shows, and eating good food.