Trump's A savage
America's War on TikTok
By Mauragh Scott
Credit to Win McNamee
Tiktok is a new video-sharing app whose increase in popularity over the past few years has not been without its fair share of controversies. From being accused of being Chinese spyware to teenagers licking toilet seats to ‘catch Covid-19’. Tiktok is an app with a reputation. However, recent accusations from the Trump administration that this app should be banned as it is misleading the American public to sway voting behaviours is a debate which is much more complex than it sounds.
Governments banning websites and apps have always been controversial around the world, as it often leads to a conflict between cyber-safety and the protection of freedom of speech. Sadly, these debates are never easily put to rest with compromise, especially with corrupt governments in the mix. In this case, Trump's conquest to ban Tiktok may well be a smart move, after all the circumstances around the data ‘protection’ in the app do smell fishy, despite nothing being proven. After all, if true, this wouldn’t be the first time an app has interfered in a US election, and the Trump administration couldn’t possibly want to repeat that mistake!
However, there are many questioning if Trump’s accusations of Tiktok are valid. For starters, it’s not like Trump has a friendly relationship with China, and I am sure the more than 26.5 million monthly American Tiktok users are a bit of a kick in the teeth. Yet, if we look at the loudest claims from Trump, he seems to have taken an issue with their use of user’s data. This situation has made it obvious that Trump’s anger with Tiktok’s information harvesting is simply because it doesn’t benefit him as Facebook’s did. It does bring into question if unethical data harvesting is only allowed if it benefits the people in power.
Moreover, the timing of Trump’s accusations is suspicious, as worries of Tiktok’s data protection, or lack thereof, have been around since its origin in 2016. This has led to many argue that Trump's present rush to ban Tiktok does seem to instead point to the wish that he would like certain videos to disappear. Such as the sheer quantity of filmed occurrences of police brutality and racism in America posted on the app over the past few months, since Tiktok has been the only social media platform that has allowed these videos to be circulated so widely. The proof is in the videos, and the Trump government doesn’t want any form of truth coming out. It really makes you wonder the validity of any of the Trump administrations claims, that’s if you had any hope in them anyway.
All in all, American users of Tiktok, and the rest of the world can only look on in alarm. Currently, there is a push for Tiktok to be sold to an American company in order to keep the app in the country. Yet, many can’t help but wonder if this was Trump’s plan all along. After all, if an American company owns Tiktok, there certainly won’t be as much exposure on topics Trump would like very much to be swept under the rug. The future doesn’t look positive, despite this, as much as Trump thinks that Tiktok being banned or converted will benefit him in the polls come November, this might actually be the push it takes for young people to vote him out (if that’s even possible).