TikTok users are worried about the potential ban of the app by the US government, following a Congressional hearing with the TikTok CEO. The Congressional members asked questions that demonstrated their lack of understanding of technology, including asking if TikTok connects to a user’s home Wi-Fi network. TikTok creators have concerns about the future of the app, which has given them a community and, in some cases, a career. TikTok creator Vitus “V” Spehar said that banning the app in the US would disconnect American citizens from Canada, the UK, Mexico, Iran, Ukraine, and frontline reporting from those countries.
Some TikTok creators travelled to Washington, D.C. to advocate on TikTok’s behalf and against the threat of a national ban. Tech ethicists and creators believe that national security concerns about the app are overstated. University of Colorado Boulder Professor Dr. Casey Fiesler, who has an audience of over 100,000 followers on TikTok, believes the risk is speculative, and no worse than what is troubling about social media right now. There is no evidence that TikTok has shared data with the Chinese government, but reports have shown that employees at TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company ByteDance have viewed American user data.
TikTok has attempted to appease US officials with Project Texas, a $1.5 billion plan to move US users’ data to Oracle servers and create a subsidiary of the company called the TikTok US Data Security Inc., which would oversee any aspect of TikTok involving national security. TikTok creators support solutions like Project Texas, rather than the RESTRICT Act, which would give the US new tools for restricting and potentially banning technology exports from foreign adversaries.
During the Congressional hearing, multiple congresspeople asked Chew about how TikTok moderates dangerous trends like “the blackout challenge,” in which children tried to see how long they can hold their breath. Children died from this behavior after it circulated on TikTok, but the game didn’t originate on the platform: As early as 2008, the CDC warned parents about it.
In conclusion, TikTok users are concerned about the potential ban of the app by the US government. They fear that banning the app in the US would disconnect American citizens from important information and community from around the world. Tech ethicists and creators believe that national security concerns about the app are overstated. TikTok has attempted to appease US officials with Project Texas, which TikTok creators support, rather than broad legislation that would give the government the power to decide if something is unsafe. The Congressional hearing highlighted the lack of understanding about technology by some Congressional members. TikTok creators want to find solutions that don’t penalize the app or creators but address real issues like moderating dangerous trends.