Tick Tock TikTok

States and universities are now looking to ban TikTok.

States and universities are now looking to ban TikTok.

Hector Rodriguez, Scibe Reporter

TikTok, the most downloaded social media app of all time, has gained acclaim and notoriety over the past few years. TikTok, originally being published internationally in 2017, was created in 2016 by the Chinese data company, ByteDance. TikTok, in 2018, would then merge with another popular social media platform, Musical.ly. 

With over 3.5 billion downloads, users can find anything on TikTok: sports, news, tips and tricks, advice, information, and more./

Unfortunately, the app has had its fair share of controversies that often surround dangerous trends such as the infamous “Black Out” challenge, also known as the choking game, where participants willingly pass out due to lack of oxygen to the brain. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Other infamous trends include the NyQuil Chicken Challenge, the Borg Challenge, the Benadryl Challenge, the Penny Challenge, among others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) attributed 82 deaths to the Choking Game from 1995 to 2008 and at least 20 more during the trends relevancy on TikTok. The Borg Challenge has led to the hospitalization of nearly 30 University of Massachusetts Amherst students, including the arrest of two teens for underage drinking. The Benadryl Challenge has also killed at least one teenager prompting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release a 2020 report on the challenge and ensuing hospitalizations.

These dangers raise questions as to TikTok’s safety and influence; however, it’s threats do not end with user safety. 

The United States government seems very much concerned about how TikTok is owned by a Chinese media company. James Lewis, an information security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said, “It’s not that we know TikTok has done something, it’s that distrust of China and awareness of Chinese espionage has increased.” 

Many officials believe that because TikTok gathers personal, sensitive data on many Americans and that China now has a secret source of intelligence over US citizens. The possibility of espionage or abuse of cyberintelligence raises concerns about the app. 

The United States government does not like the idea of other countries having access to such data, and the paranoia has increased since a Chinese weather data balloon flew over the United States. So what should be done to combat TikTok?

TikTok is already getting banned in some countries. For example, in 2020, India banned the app, stating ‘they were secretly transmitting users’ data to servers outside India’. 

In the United States, the app has been banned on government devices due to security concerns, and as of 2023, the state of Montana began the process of banning TikTok. If passed, it will go into effect in January of 2024. The bill, known as SB 419, cites a number of concerns, including alleged surveillance from the Chinese government. The bill noted that “TikTok’s allowance and promotion of dangerous challenges threatens the health and safety of Montanans.” 

And, if the states do not ban TikTok, colleges and universities will. The University of Texas, Auburn University and Boise State University have banned it from their Wi-Fi networks.  This begs the question, is time running out for TikTok? The answer is yes. Time is slowly counting down for TikTok before it gets banned everywhere.

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