TikTok, the alluringly addictive social media platform that teenagers and adults are obsessed with, has taken the world by storm. Its users have interfered with Trump’s comeback rally, they have documented the Black Lives Matter protests from the frontlines, and filled the void of time that COVID created.
However, some governments around the world are now looking at banning the app over rumour-based concerns that it’s being used as government spyware and involved with Chinese propaganda. India has already placed a ban on the app, along with other-Chinese owned apps, and the US is threatening to follow suit.
America has said it’s considering the possibility of banning TikTok over political concerns, and rumours are swirling that Australia could do the same.
It’s no secret that our current political landscape is a mess, with international relationships becoming more and more fractured. From theories about COVID-19’s origins to the belief that China is to be blamed for the major cyber-attack on Australian governments and businesses that occurred in June, it seems that it was only a matter of time before more Chinese-owned products were demonised.
As a Chinese-owned platform, rumours about TikTok being used as government spyware or weapons are to some extent likely to be the result of increasing political tensions. However, that hasn’t stopped the US government from considering the possibility of banning the app. Whilst Australia hasn’t indicated that they are thinking about taking such extreme measures, some concern has been expressed.
When asked about it in an interview with 2GB, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison explained that it’s “right for people to have an increased awareness of where these platforms originate and the risks they present.”
Like its social media counterparts, Instagram and Facebook, TikTok does collect information from its users, including birth dates, emails, names, and country of residence, in a more alarming manner than its users likely realise.
A TikTok spokesperson assured “we have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users,” adding that “we have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.” Whilst privacy and data concerns may be warranted, the specific target on TikTok is probably politically-fuelled by government tensions.
Although there have been no specific actions undertaken by the Australian or American government to implement a ban, it’s still best to enjoy TikTok while you can.