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Is the TikTok Ban Government Censorship?

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Yet again, TikTok is at risk of being banned in the U.S. After the Trump Administration’s failed attempt to restrict TikTok in 2020, we find ourselves in the same situation again.

It has been reported that these fears come from a political standpoint. TikTok’s parent company, Byte Dance, is based in Beijing. This has resulted in an argument over how American data is being misused by the Chinese government.

The information that is recorded includes what videos we watch, for how long, messages sent through the app, country location, internet address and type of device used. Other data that can be recorded with permission includes your exact location, your phone’s contacts, other social network connections, age, phone number and payment information (Kaspersky).

The argument says that this information could be used for blackmail or propaganda purposes. 

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As a long-time TikTok user, I do find it slightly creepy that another country has so much data about me, but I am not surprised. Any media app is going to track the activity on its apps, as well as statistics about its users. After eight years of TikTok’s existence, the CIA has yet to find evidence of any violations occurring, leaving me without fear.

Those attempting to pass the bill banning TikTok hold another fear that Chinese Intelligence could use TikTok to sway political views and control the elections. However, this can and will happen on any social media app.

Algorithms work with the goal of outputting content that the user will agree with and enjoy. If the Chinese government wants to influence the election through TikTok, they will. However, Facebook and Instagram are also at work doing the same thing.

Aside from just social media, differing political beliefs will be preached everywhere. From on-campus speakers, to YouTube, to the actual news, everyone will have their own opinions. Having, sharing and hearing opinions is part of being a participator in democracy. If a voter chooses to never reach outside of their own algorithm to observe other opinions, that is their own fault. It is our responsibility as Americans to form our own opinions.

My verdict: It is a person’s responsibility to do their own political research and not fall for what they see on social media. Read articles, research policies and do not believe everything you see.

However, I cannot help but wonder why after eight years of this app’s existence and no record of data breaches, politicians and lawmakers are intercepting TikTok now. I believe these politicians are just angry that they cannot control what content receives publicity as they have more control over American apps like Facebook and Instagram.

With the upcoming election, I think it is likely that this urge to ban TikTok does not come from a desire for nationwide security, but instead a desire for censorship surrounding presidential candidates. We will just have to wait and see what will actually happen with this ban.

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