If you’ve spent any amount of time on social media recently, you’ve probably heard something about the TikTok ban. It seems everyone has thoughts about a possible ban on one of the emerging technological platforms.
Through all that talk, though, simple answers can be hard to find. With that in mind, we’re going to focus on some of the basics of this story in an effort to better inform you regarding what you need to know about this fascinating topic.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a video-based social media app. It encourages users to upload relatively short videos of varying lengths.
Developed by Chinese software company ByteDance, TikTok has exploded in popularity over the last couple of years. Much like Vine, TikTok has become an especially popular source for comedy videos. However, an influx of younger users has turned it into a premier location for breaking media.
From TikTok challenges to announcement videos, the platform has become one of the top destinations for trending content. Even if you don’t use TikTok, you’ve likely seen TikTok media elsewhere.
That may make it all the more surprising that many are suddenly calling for a TikTok ban.
Why Are There Calls For a TikTok Ban?
There are a few reasons why people are calling for a TikTok ban. However, the primary cause of the controversy is data collection.
As you know, many major apps collect data from users. The extent of that data collection varies, but there are some common rules in place regarding such practices. Those rules dictate what can be collected, where it goes, and who has access to it.
There are some who feel that TikTok is not adhering to those rules. Some authorities believe that TikTok is collecting massive amounts of data. The developers claim that data relates to simple information designed to improve the experience, but not everyone is convinced. Others are worried about the way the amount of data TikTok collects could interrupt services.
This brings us to the other major talking point of the ban: China’s rumored involvement.
As we said, TikTok developer ByteDance is a China-based company. For various political, historical, and technological reasons, governments and individuals are increasingly wary of China’s rise in the tech world. Specifically, there are concerns about how user data from TikTok could potentially be used by China’s government.
The full story is deeper than that, but the simple answer is that the TikTok ban is primarily based on security concerns.
Where Is There a TikTok Ban?
While Indonesia temporarily banned TikTok, India recently instituted what seems to be a permanent TikTok ban.
Essentially, India feels TikTok is a potential threat to their national security. They’re concerned by the app’s popularity and data collection. Mostly, though, they’re concerned that international user information could be passed on to China’s government.
It should also be noted that there are additional political tensions between India and China which certainly helped expedite India’s decision to ban the app. Again, we advise researching that topic a little further for more information.
The main point is that the India ban is big news for TikTok. It sets a precedent for future bans and it deprives TikTok of a large userbase. The question now is, “What comes next?”
Will There be a TikTok Ban in the U.S.?
Right now, multiple countries are talking about a TikTok ban. However, the one that has captured the most attention is the United States.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been one of the most vocal critics of TikTok. He’s even implied that a ban of the app could come in the next few weeks. Along those same lines, some U.S. companies have banned TikTok or strongly discouraged it. Nearly all of those sources cite similar security concerns.
So is a U.S. ban possible? It theoretically could be, but such a move would take a long time and would certainly be contested. As such, it remains highly unlikely that a permanent and widespread ban would be implemented in the near future.
Should You Uninstall TikTok?
TikTok has stated that they do not send data to governments and have no intention of doing so. They also have said that their data isn’t actually stored in China. Furthermore, they’ve worked with governments in the past who have had concerns and seemingly resolved most issues.
Right now, it does seem that most security concerns involving TikTok are just that. Concerns. In terms of proven security breaches, though, there isn’t much to go off of. TikTok has had security vulnerabilities in the past, but there hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary (relatively speaking).
At the moment, it doesn’t seem like TikTok represents an immediate security threat to your iPhone or personal data. As is the case with any app, though, we highly recommend you do your research and stay up-to-date on this topic.
Furthermore, we advise you to always use a VPN and to always be wary of what data you share online. Employing basic defenses and common-sense techniques can help you avoid a lot of trouble in the long run.