TikTok’s potential U.S. ban: What we know

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The TikTok logo on a phone screen with other apps around it.

By Sarah Rose, Managing Editor

TikTok was the most consumed social media app in 2022, according to Statista, and its population of users keeps on growing into the millions. Due to security speculations, America may have to wish their most beloved app goodbye.

Those who have been keeping up with TikTok news over the past few years may know that the United States already tried to issue a ban on it. In 2020, former President Donald Trump tried to have TikTok banned due to it being owned by the Chinese company Bytedance. Trump’s main concern was that the app was affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party. 

NPR reported that his action was blocked twice by federal judges. 

In December, President Joe Biden banned the app from all federal devices due to concerns raised by media reports and Chinese politicians, according to NBC

For years, the TikTok discussion has never left Congress, and a new development in its potential ban was announced last month. On Jan. 30, the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced that TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew will testify in court before the congressional committee. TikTok’s data security and harm to its young users are the main topics that are to be discussed. Congress’s main issue with the viral app is that it’s owned by a Chinese company that could access American user data and sell it. 

In November, FBI director Christopher Wray raised security concerns and stated that “the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so choose,” NPR reported. Chew’s testament in March will give TikTok a chance to answer questions and clear concerns. 

Another issue with Tiktok is its impact on young users, specifically users who are 16 to 24 years old. Like Instagram and Twitter, social media apps can have a dangerous effect on teens and young adults’ mental health and well-being, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Being exposed to too much of an app like TikTok may cause anxiety, depression, isolation and an increase in self-harm. TikTok has also expressed that it’s continuously working on making its app a safe place for all its users, according to CNET

Chew’s testament will also answer questions on how TikTok addresses harmful videos on their platform and how their algorithm works. Users of TikTok may already know that each user gets a unique algorithm based on videos liked and how frequently a user interacts with the app. Everyone’s For You Page (FYP) is unique and could pose any type of danger to its viewers.

As most of Congress is already pushing for a nationwide ban of the app, March 23 will either solidify the idea or dismiss it.