An update on the TikTok ban

KEEP TIKTOK: opponents of the TikTok ban gather for a press conference at Capitol Hill on March 22nd, 2024. (NewYorkTimes)

Jordyn Banks | Writer

May 2, 2024

It seems like every year, panic breaks out on TikTok, and everyone believes the app will be banned. People dramatically say their goodbyes and scheme which social media app they will move over to. Usually, it is a rumor. However, last Wednesday, President Biden signed a bill requiring ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, to sell the app, or it will be banned nationwide. ByteDance has nine months to sell the app. Already, this bill has proven to be widely controversial and has faced mass public backlash. 

Immediately after the bill was signed, TikTok released a statement stating the law was unconstitutional. They claimed that the ban silences the voices of millions of people and will ruin millions of companies that depend on the app. In court, TikTok intends to argue that the ban will violate the First Amendment freedom of speech. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) openly supported TikTok, with a representative recently agreeing that the law is unconstitutional. Others advise TikTok to argue that the ban violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as it puts foreign companies at a disadvantage compared to American companies. But why have politicians been pushing to ban the app for years now? Many speculate that TikTok has been used as a method to spread Chinese propaganda and surveil millions of Americans. Supporters of the ban have cited laws that allow the Chinese government to force companies to hand over data, including sensitive information like location information.

SHOU ZI CHEW: the CEO of TikTok claims that security is not at risk. (TheHollywoodReporter)

“I understand that TikTok may be a security risk, but many people depend on TikTok for their livelihood and financial security,” senior Roxana Hernandez explains. For me, the ban wouldn’t affect me that much, but it would put many people out of work, which is devastating.”

Furthermore, supporters of the ban also believe that the app spreads far too much misinformation and conspiracy theories. This concern grew during the escalation of the Israel-Hamas War, as much more political content was posted on TikTok. Some even blame TikTok for the rise of antisemitism. “I do not see too much overly political content on TikTok. Due to the algorithm, what you see depends on what you like on the app. If you like political content, then yes, you will see political content. But if you don’t, you most likely won’t see much. Personally, I don’t think TikTok is spreading propaganda more than any other social media app,” senior Ava Martinez explains. 

If BtyeDance refuses or cannot sell the app, what will happen to TikTok? No, the app won’t magically disappear from your phone. The ban would primarily target the app store, so the app would no longer be available to download, and you would no longer be able to update it. Because of this,  it will work less effectively over time, and bugs will not be fixed. The earliest the ban could happen is in one year, but will most likely take longer than that since TikTok is fighting the ban. TikTok’s challenge in court will definitely be interesting, and the decision will change many lives.  

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