OPINION | Tiktok is no more of a ‘national security threat’ than American-based social media

After an overwhelming 352 to 65 votes to pass legislation to ban the mobile app, TikTok, many people both online and offline have expressed concern about the bill. It made it through to The House of Representatives while other bills continue to wait in limbo. Mason Britton | Sun News Daily

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The “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act” was just passed by the House of Representatives with an overwhelming 352-65 votes. 

It is better known as the bill that would effectively ban TikTok in America or force the parent company ByteDance to sell TikTok to another company. 

When you boil this bill down, it is censorship. It gives the president the power to determine whether any app or web hosting platform is a national security threat and gives him the ability to ban it.

President Joe Biden said he would sign the bill if it came across his desk and force TikTok to be banned or force them to sell.

The premise behind the bill is completely absurd. The bill sets out to ban TikTok solely because the app is owned by a “foreign adversary,” namely the People’s Republic of China.

One of the main reasons cited by several politicians as to why this bill is needed is to protect the personal data of citizens. The other is because the platform uses algorithms to show videos to users that could influence the views of users, especially in the upcoming presidential election. 

This is a concern that is not unique to TikTok. They are problems that every social media platform faces. 

Every platform deals with the personal data of citizens, and Facebook and other American platforms have had several scandals when it comes to the personal data of its users. Due to security breaches and leaks, Facebook has had information stolen and leaked from over 2 billion users’ accounts.

Facebook has also undoubtedly and indisputably impacted elections before. They have driven some people to vote who otherwise would not have, which is admirable, but the platform has also spread fake news and targeted posts, which have influenced votes as well. 

So, where do we draw the line? Do we draw the line at a non-American company that is potentially doing the same thing that other social media platforms in America are doing? 

The answer that our government gave us is “yes,” but it is not right. 

There is no reason to believe that TikTok is any worse than any other American-owned social media platform, and banning TikTok would affect millions of Americans. 

I enjoy watching TikTok sometimes. Losing TikTok would not be devastating or life-changing in my life by any means, but it definitely sets a dangerous precedent. Where do we draw the line?

The government having the ability to unilaterally censor one of the largest social media platforms in the world from the entire country is concerning.

CEO of TikTok Shou Zi Chew said in a video on the platform that TikTok being banned would put more than 300,000 American jobs at risk. 

TikTok helps small businesses and creators that use the platform for their livelihood. Both will be affected in a major way. Countless small businesses have been able to stay open through post-COVID times because of TikTok. 

Creators have also been able to make a living off of TikTok through the creator fund, which allows them to be paid for eligible videos that they make. 

The last thing that needs to be added about this bill is that has an extremely America-centric view of the world. The bill sets out to make TikTok sell itself, but why would ByteDance even consider selling the platform simply because America is planning on banning it?

TikTok has over one billion active users every month. Just less than 150 million of those active users are in the United States. 

If the bill is passed, it makes no sense for the platform to sell itself because America doesn’t have anywhere close to the majority of the platform’s active monthly users. It only has around 15% of the platform’s monthly active users.

The TikTok ban makes no sense, and it is just an overreaction by American policymakers who are scared that the biggest social media platform is no longer American-owned. 

Call and let the politicians that represent you in Washington D.C. know how you feel about this bill.