TikTok: The Latest and Greatest Social Media Platform

It may not be as innocent as it seems


TikTok is a mobile short video app developed by Chinese company, ByteDance in 2016. Like Vine, TikTok allows its users to upload short videos such as dancing, comedy, talent, and lip-sync that can be viewed and shared by other users. TikTok only became available worldwide in 2018 after merging with Musical.ly, another social media app used to create videos, mostly of lip-singing.  ByteDance spent $1 billion to purchase Musical.ly, allowing TikTok to merge with the existing social media app essentially ending Musical.ly and making TikTok a worldwide app.  



Privacy Concerns: 

In its privacy policy, TikTok lists that it collects IP addresses, browsing history, mobile carrier, location data, and personal information such as name, email address, and phone number. Users have expressed concerns related to the amount of information TikTok collects and web developers say videos are shared through the app using hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) which can put the user’s information at risk.  There have been several instances of data and security flaws in TikTok: Check Point Research, a network security company, discovered a security flaw which could allow hackers access to users accounts through SMS. In May and June 2020 there were two companies, Dutch Data Protection Authority and European Data protection Board, that announced an investigation in TikTok’s privacy protection and security. 



It has become more difficult for users to stop using TikTok. The app has drawn user’s attention easily through the funny entertaining content. The app also does not require users to follow others or search to see content, just simply open the app and start scrolling for new videos, making the app fairly easy to use.  The app also caters to peoples likes, roping users into watching more videos. Another concerning aspect includes the user’s attention span. Due to the short nature of TikTok videos and repeated viewing form users, their attention span could potentially decrease which is concerning for the younger audience whose brains are still developing.  


TikTok vs the United States

TikTok became increasingly popular in 2020. During president Trump’s campaign rally, TikTok users falsely grew the attendance at a rally in Oklahoma by purchasing rally tickets and not attending, leaving a small group of supporters to attend. After this situation occurred, the Trump administration began considering the ban of TikTok in the United States. Although the app as not officially banned, the US Commerce Department banned all new US downloads of TikTok and put a stop to software updates. 



Although TikTok is depicted as a controversial app that collects user data and leaves them addicted, the app has also brought awareness to social issues, Covid-19, and has brought together a large community of people based on similar likes and interests.