Ryland Staples- Staff Writer
TikTok has been the polarizing social media app that has had everyone’s attention. Especially the United States government, which had given TikTok (a China based company) a deadline to either find a buyer for their U.S. based operations, or become banned in the U.S. Fortunately for TikTok, Oracle (a United States based tech company) and Walmart have partnered together to make, “TikTok Global” and in response President Trump has, “Given the deal my blessing.” Trump claims that because TikTok is a Chinese based company, they’re using the app to spy on and steal information from American citizens. When ironically, American social media companies and websites in general, already do that.
Tik Tok is owned by a Chinese company based in Beijing called, ByteDance. Before there was TikTok, before there was Musical.ly, a lip-syncing app that was acquired in 2017. However, in 2018 all Musical.ly accounts were transferred over to TikTok. So at first, TikTok was used mostly for people who wanted to sing or lip-sync, but as it’s popularity grew and grew, more people started creating more unique content. Broader categories like make-up, cooking, advice, technology and overall internet memes were fair game for TikTok users. As well as taking advantage of the internal video editor on the TikTok app, giving users the ability to use different kinds of transitions and ways to make their videos stand out.
What makes TikTok different from other social media platforms is how one of a kind and simple their UI (user interface) is. When you open the app, there are two tabs at the top that say, “For You” and, “Following.” As you swipe through the For You tab, you’ll see different videos from different users on the app. As you like and follow different pages that peak your interest, those users that you follow all go under your following tab, allowing you to quickly go to them and see what they’ve posted. As you follow and like more people on the For you page, TikTok uses that information to show you more users like the ones that you already follow. It’s something that seems simple, but really helps when you’re trying to find something that you’re interested in.
Sounds great right? Then why does it freak everyone out so much when they hear the name, TikTok. Well if you recall that app last summer that would scan your face and turn you into an old person using Russian made artificial intelligence? So the United States isn’t taking any changes with an app that is already so popular with younger Americans.
The funny thing is that American companies already have trouble with how they manage users’ information. Users are lured in and make an account because you don’t have to pay in order to use it.
According to Amnesty International, “The tech giants offer these services to billions without charging users a fee. Instead, individuals pay for the services with their intimate personal data, being constantly tracked across the web and in the physical world as well, for example, through connected devices…This extraction and analysis of people’s personal data on such an unprecedented scale is incompatible with every element of the right to privacy, including the freedom from intrusion into our private lives, the right to control information about ourselves, and the right to a space in which we can freely express our identities.”
So is it fair to subjugate TikTok to this kind of questioning when companies like Facebook and Google do the same thing, just because they’re a foriegn company? If anything I feel like TikTok has given a reason to look into how tech companies use the users’ information to their benefit.
However, Senior, Journalism major Jamaija Rhoads knows that it’s unavoidable, “ I would be a fool if I thought they didn’t [use our information], I just feel like it’s a downside of having all this smart technology, but I’m not about to get rid of it so it is what it is, unfortunately.”