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The TikTok ban is political theater – El Estoque

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With over 1 billion active users, TikTok is fourth largest social media platform in the world, a staple on the phones of most teens at MVHS.

However, this platform that enables global expression may soon be withdrawn from the market. On Wed. March 13th, the The House of Representatives has passed a bill That would effectively mean a ban on TikTok. More specifically, the bill would require divestment and the sale of the app to an American company – although the Washington Post argues The time given to the company is not enough to find a buyer and sell the app, making a ban extremely likely. Although a ban on TikTok has been threatened in the past – most notably through a 2020 executive order from President Trump that led to TikTok working with Oracle to protect US data – it is a lot due to the requirements of this bill more likely that there will be a complete ban.

The bill was the result of concerns about national security and privacy issues as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had access to American data through TikTok users. Because TikTok's owner, ByteDance, is a Chinese company, certain Chinese laws apply allow that the CCP may request data from the company for intelligence gathering purposes.

Yet this bill fails to protect American interests. TikTok suggested Project Texas, a move to address American data security concerns by moving all data from U.S.-based users to U.S.-based servers. The goal of this $1.5 billion plan is to restore American security to TikTok, as data stored in the US would be subject to American privacy laws. The plan also includes close monitoring of data transfers to ensure user data does not leave the US unlawfully. In addition, measures such as: Bans on the app on federal devices Measures are already in place to prevent sensitive data from falling into the hands of the CCP.

While the ban paints TikTok as a data-guzzling tool for Chinese propaganda, it doesn't take into account the millions of Americans who use the platform for good.

However, a ban is still in sight. Why? Lawmakers want to give the impression that they are tough on the CCP. While the ban paints TikTok as a data-guzzling tool for Chinese propaganda, it doesn't take into account the millions of Americans who use the platform for good – social good that enables millions of Americans to express their opinions. TikTok is a community building platform, a key to activism movements like #Me too and other grassroots movements that raise awareness and have sometimes led to real policy change, particularly among high school students.

Another argument for the ban is the alleged spread of misinformation on TikTok. Because of the platform's powerful content recommendation algorithm, there is potential for TikTok to recommend content to users that advances its own ideals, something American critics say has been a growing problem of late believe that TikTok has “fueled the spread of anti-Semitism and promoted pro-Palestinian content to American users” in light of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, this is not a reason to ban free expression. It is protected by the First Amendment and the Supreme Court has confirmed The government cannot ban foreign propaganda. Misinformation is also a problem that occurs across all platforms, not just TikTok – social media sites like Instagram and X face the same problem. TikTok, like most other social media platforms, has tried to combat this problem Use of Content Guidelines Filter out misinformation. While it can't filter out everything, TikTok shouldn't be blamed for this problem if it's not one they're facing individually.

The negative consequences of the ban also extend beyond the loss of a platform for social good and expression. Many successful creators will lose their careers, especially small creators – students, small businesses, housewives and others – whose platform is primarily based on TikTok and who rely on it to make a living. What is crucial is 40% of Generation Z Americans have a side hustle and TikTok generates, on average, 64% higher revenue than other platforms and supports millions of businesses and creators. The ban also has the unintended effect of strengthening industrial tech giants' monopolies on social media platforms and limiting citizens' choices.

Of course, data security concerns are very real – breaches are common and have the potential to expose the personal information of millions of users. But this issue doesn't just affect TikTok's data, and targeting TikTok solely for this issue means the ban is more for political theater than anything else. We need to hold Facebook, X, Reddit and other platforms accountable for the same thing. The ban also has much broader implications than just being a political tool – the negative impact on social activism, expression and the ability to generate revenue makes it clear that eliminating TikTok will do more harm than good.