TikTok Ban: Fact or Fiction

TikTok has really swept the nation since its release in 2017; hard to believe it hasn’t been around very long. The short videos people post can become so popular that you will see them on platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube, really anywhere; there’s even commercials for the app on cable and streaming service. Getting to the point in just under three years, TikTok is an app that everyone knows.

 

However, three years might be the end of this app that is currently number one in the category of entertainment. For those of you who don’t know this history of the app, it was originally the lip-syncing app Musical.ly. This app was then bought by a Chinese company that owned its own lip-syncing app ByteDance; they combined these two apps and created what we now know as Tik Tok. This app was first launched in China in 2017 then released in the US in 2018- since then it has swept the nation with over a billion downloads. 

 

Just when this app seems to keep growing, it’s coming to a halt. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) has been reviewing the original acquisition deal made by the Chinese tech company when it purchased Musical.ly for potential threats to U.S. national security since last year; weird we’re just hearing about these issues now. In light of these concerns, TikTok has tried to distance itself from its Chinese origins by not allowing anyone in China to have the app since July. The app executives are also moving to store user data in the U.S instead of China.

 

All of this is happening because President Trump believes the app is a threat to national security. He himself states that the app, “potentially [allows] China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage” so now TikTok needs to be bought by an American company before September 20th or it is gone in the U.S for good. 

 

Although all of this uproar is for national safety, it is pure speculation. U.S. officials have not provided evidence that ByteDance has shared TikTok U.S. user data with Chinese authorities, and the company has repeatedly denied any allegations that it does so. Although TikTok has begun hiring lobbyists to plead its case in Washington, it has been unable to shake distrust of its inevitable ties back to the Communist Party. With this being the case, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill to ban TikTok from use on government-issued devices. Although these national security threats seem to be speculation: In June, TikTok was one of nearly 60 Chinese apps banned in India after the country’s Ministry of Information said it posed a threat to national security. The move came days after a deadly border clash with China. So it is really hard to say if this app is under fire truly over safety concerns or over displeasement with China as a whole. 

 

As of now, the ban rumblings are at a standstill because TikTok has sued the Trump administration pleading that the ban of the app is unconstitutional. They are making this case in an attempt to argue the ban order came with little notice and they weren’t allowed to be heard out prior to these actions being taken. On August 17th, TikTok employee Patrick Ryan filed a separate federal lawsuit alleging that Trump's executive order was defamatory and caused violations of due process and equal protection of the law. The Whitehouse has yet to comment on the lawsuit.

 

So as of now, everything about there being a potential ban of TikTok is very much true; but will it actually happen is yet to be seen.