What is going on with TikTok?
TikTok is the most popular social network currently on the web. Nearly 9 million Canadians use TikTok, a number that has quadrupled in the past couple of years, and about 150 million Americans login to this controversial social site, as well. This has security experts worried because of how the users’ data might be accessed by the Chinese Communist Party from this Chinese owned app.
Right now, the debate is hot, in both countries, as to whether to ban TikTok. Canada wants it banned from government-issued devices and the US government wants to ban it all together.
TikTok offers an entertaining utopia of short videos. But it doesn’t just have music and dancing. It’s also filled with tips and information for work and for hobbies. It’s simply short, vertical videos posted by fellow TikTok users. All of them delivered to other TikTok users according to their interests.
You may be surprised to learn that, for over 6 million businesses in both countries, TikTok is also a marketing tool. According to CBS news, Adrian’s Bakery in New Orleans was struggling to make a profit prior to getting on TikTok. Since then, the bakery has seen a 300% increase in profit; with TikTok spreading their customer base beyond their New Orleans borders.
So, here we are with a social site that is so popular among Canadians and Americans and, yet, our governments are in heated conversations with many members wanting to shut it down. Why is this?
What is concerning the Canadian and American governments?
The Canadian and American governments are both very concerned about how much data TikTok is collecting from its users? Who has access to this data? How is it intended to be used?
While data collection is an ongoing concern about all the major social media sites, there is one significant side to this concern that is unique to TikTok. China.
TikTok is owned by a company called ByteDance, a Chinese company that must cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party. This has the American government especially alert to the possibility that the Chinese Communist Party may be able to access TikTok’s collected data in order to manipulate American elections.
Milton Mueller, a professor of cyber security and public policy at Georgia Tech, told CBS News, “There is no indication that (TikTok) is in some way manipulated or controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. We found that to be a complete fabrication.”
Research has found that TikTok is quite open and honest about what data it is collecting. It’s listed clearly in their privacy statement. According to the statement, the data they collect is:
- The model of your device
- Your IP address
- Your time zone
Unlike other social sites, TikTok does NOT know your name or your location other than your general area.
While the US government is still on a rant to have TikTok banned from the entire country, Mueller reminds CBS News that this is highly unlikely to happen, “There’s a 90% chance that that would be ruled unconstitutional. Because the government would be banning an information source,” Mueller states. “If you ban TikTok, it’s not the Chinese government that would be silenced. It’s the 150 million Americans who would be silenced,” says Mueller. “Those are the ones whose free speech would be violated by the ban.”