TikTok working with Chinese government to monitor user data causes privacy concern

By Jack Baudoin

With billions of people using social media, concerns regarding user security should be higher now than ever before. Social media is more popular than it has ever been, with 3.8 billion people using it in 2019, according to a Nov. 6 article by TheNextWeb.

TikTok reported over 500 million users last year, according to a Nov. 22 article by Oberlo. TikTok, which is owned by the company ByteDance, has begun working with the Chinese government to moderate content.

With any social media use comes the risk of personal information being seen and sold, and since TikTok is working with the Chinese government, those risks seem even more real. However, there is a long history of the American government gaining access to personal information through social media, so concerns of a government body viewing this information are the same as they have been.

TikTok has spoken repeatedly on its policies regarding the moderation of certain videos. The company has mentioned differences on social views between America and China regarding free speech. Moderation of content is sensitive to those differences, taking into account the stricter free speech laws in China.

The Department of Homeland Security has increased monitoring of social media, according to a May 22 article by the Brennan Center for Justice. The Department of Homeland Security is able to gain personal information, such as religious views and mental health status, by viewing social media accounts.

While the Chinese government now has access to personal information, the American government has had access to this information for years. Since the American government is closer to American users than the Chinese government, online security continues to be a concern Americans should worry about.

Any government having access to personal information is a scary thought.

“[Social media] should be for the user,” junior communication major Noah Haney said. “The government should not have oversight.”

As long as social media is accessible by the government, security risks will continue on. However, the fact that the American government has always had access to this information shows that security risks have always been there.