by Brittany Raymer
Former Digital Writer & Editor
Is the death of TikTok coming to the United States sooner rather than later? That’s possible as Texas joins North Carolina and other states in banning the use of the social media app on state owned cellphones, in addition to Congress. An edict from the federal government banning TikTok will likely come sooner rather than later.
When it comes to TikTok, the social media app, which is a favorite among Gen Z, is known for its short videos, dance routines, sometimes troubling content and trends, and, most disturbingly, concerns that its user data is being shared with China.
Owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, TikTok is subject to oversight by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), like every other person and business in the highly surveilled state. The CCP is responsible for having a social credit system for all citizens and for putting members of the Uyghur minority of Xinjiang province into concentration and reeducation camps. Once they’ve served their time, the Uyghur people and other minorities are then sent to work as essentially slave labor to build Apple, Nike and other products for the broader world.
So yes, your iPhone could have been made with slave labor.
There’s no doubt there’s severe danger lurking within any close relationship with the CCP, and social media apps are no exception.
In fact, for some, the phone they used to take a picture of the (likely) Chinese spy balloon could be telling the CCP infinitely more about the country than a Cold War-era spy, Wizard of Oz inspired technology ever could. At least, that would be the case if they’re using TikTok.
According to reports, ByteDance accessed U.S. user data in order to track certain Americans, including journalists and prominent public figures.
Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who sponsored the bill that banned TikTok from federal devices, has also introduced a measure on January that would extend it nationwide.
“TikTok poses a threat to all Americans who have the app on their devices. It opens the door for the Chinese Communist Party to access Americans’ personal information, keystrokes, and location through aggressive data harvesting. Banning it on government devices was a step in the right direction, but now is the time to ban it nationwide to protect the American people,” Senator Hawley said in a statement.
North Carolina is already working towards banning TikTok for state employees, and it’s a directive that could expand beyond that as well.
When Gov. Roy Cooper signed Executive Order 276, he said, “It’s important for us to protect state information technology from foreign countries that have actively participated in cyberattacks against the United States. Protecting North Carolina from cyber threats is vital to ensuring the safety, security, privacy, and success of our state and its people.”
It’s a first step towards a statewide ban, and North Carolina is not the only state. Texas just announced its ban on state agency devices as well.
The recent incursion of a Chinese spy balloon into sovereign American territory was a pretty clear threat, but perhaps their greatest coercive and surveillance device is the one that we willingly hold in our hand.
For more on how young people consume information, click here.