August 14, 2020 / Source: The Bizz USA
By Haarika Kalahasti; Edited by Pallavi Vemuri and Haarika Kalahasti
TikTok, the wildly popular app known for its short videos with silly content, has become an important topic of debate in recent news. The platform is home to over a billion users, including several social media creators, celebrities, and teenagers, who make frequent TikTok videos on various topics. What's the issue then? And why is the Trump Administration so adamant about banning the beloved app?
The main issue United States politicians have with TikTok is that it is owned by Byte Dance, a Chinese internet company. Byte Dance is headquartered in Beijing, China and is a top-rated internet company known for creating well-known apps like Babe, Douyin, Lark, and Helo. Although ByteDance claims to have quite a few other non-Chinese investors, the United States and the Trump Administration are still concerned about national security and American users' security. More specifically, they are concerned that the Chinese communist party and government could track users and federal employees, access personal information of Americans, and potentially partake in espionage. In other words, the United States has doubts that China planned the scheme through a seemingly enjoyable app to reel in millions of users to gain access to confidential information to win in the security dilemma. There is no released evidence regarding the validity of the claim, as Byte Dance and TikTok have repeatedly denied its influence with the government and Beijing.
On July 31st, President Trump warned that he would issue an "executive order" to ban the widely-used app. The app has over 100 million American users, and banning it would face severe legal and political consequences. On August 3rd, in a White House press briefing, President Trump had said if a U.S. owned company purchases the app by September 15th, he will not ban TikTok. If a U.S. company cannot buy TikTok, it will be officially "banned" from the United States, leaving millions of American users to spend their time elsewhere. Microsoft, a well-known software company, has shown interest in buying the $2 billion apps by September 15th. According to Redmond Wash, the software mogul is also interested in providing the app's services in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Whether or not Microsoft buys the app, national and private security concerns will effectively diminish.
The Trump Administration's public concern for the app has severed the relationship between the United States and China regarding internet ties. The future of the relationship between the two largest global economies is once again murky.
Despite the talk of the app's possibility to be available in the United States, other companies have created variations of the easy-to-use app. Triller, a platform founded in 2015, is an app that has also gained popularity among creators this past week due to the uncertain future of Tik Tok. Another top contender is Facebook's Instagram Reels in Instagram stories. The new feature made its debut through Instagram on August 5th, intending to connect the reels videos to the user's Instagram page.
Although there are other alternatives and a U.S. owned company may purchase TikTok and there are other alternatives, the future of the viral app is still unknown. With the possibility of TikTok being banned, the relationship between China and the USA has significantly been strained. Now, many active users, including myself, across the United States may be forced to spend their time being “productive” or finding new platforms to obsess over.