President’s Talk of Disbanding Tik-Tok Upsets Teen Users
“He can not be serious right now.” This was the initial reaction most people had when news hit of the potential for a ban on the popular social media app, TikTok, in early August 2020. Since then, it has been a seemingly never ending battle between President Donald Trump and the entire country.
TikTok is most popular for it’s short, 15-second videos in which users can express themselves freely. It is most popular among teenagers and young adults. Content ranges from political discourse to simple comedy skits meant to entertain users to tutorials on how to fix your sink with a block of ramen noodles. The infamous For You Page is a metaphorical breeding ground for free thought and expression and it seems that the younger generation simply cannot get enough.
With this freedom comes an obvious fear for what it could be used for. For many people across the United States, this fear manifests itself as their data being used without their permission. As this narrative is pushed by the President and evidence is placed before the populous, people like senior Jacob Hiles are expressing their concern over the app.
“It is justified because it was owned by a Chinese company,” Hiles said. “China is one of, if not the, biggest threat to America today and most Chinese companies work for or are heavily influenced by the Chinese government. It has been proven that the app has taken data from your clipboard and kept it when the app was just open in the background.”
While these concerns may seem threatening to some, others feel that the entire situation is being blown completely out of proportion. Junior Hannah Virgo says they found a sense of community in TikTok. For many people all around the world, TikTok is a way to make a connection, a way to feel like your voice matters.
“It’s like a whole community at this point,” Virgo said. “People have mutuals and friends that they met over TikTok and you see a lot of people talking about and bringing attention to things that need to be brought up and it reaches a lot of people because a lot of people use TikTok.”
TikTok has many communities within itself, most of which championed by members of the younger generation or, as they are more widely known as, Generation Z. According to a survey taken by the Pew Research Center in 2018, only about 30 percent of Generation Z approve of the way Trump handles his position as POTUS so it came as no surprise when TikTok was used by the younger generation to ‘troll’ the president at his rallies. After TikTok users reserved tickets to multiple rallies and did not show up, the Trump administration vastly miscalculated their expected attendance. Many people such as Senior Michael Nelson suspect this could be an underlying motive for the President’s bid to ban TikTok.
“My opinion on the entire TikTok ban situation is that it’s all kind of stupid to me,” Nelson said. “Our president wants to ban TikTok because he got trolled by the users. I’m glad it’s not banned.”
Nelson is one of many users on the app with over a thousand followers. After a video about pollution and its effects on the earth blew up seemingly overnight, Nelson gained over 20.9k followers and with them came a platform where he could express himself freely. For Nelson, losing his audience and his platform is almost unimaginable.
“I try to create comedy about the Hamilton musical or whatever I think is funny,” Nelson said. “ My initial reaction to the TikTok ban was surprise. I didn’t think it would get as far as it got.”
As the debate on whether or not TikTok should be banned rages on, another argument as old as the internet itself has emerged from the woodwork and found itself in the spotlight once again. Is social media as a whole a good or bad thing? Many arguments have been made on both sides of the discussion, both making valid points in their views.
“Someone may post something as a joke and while some people understand the joke, others take it too seriously and even get some people banned on TikTok for that joke,” Nelson said. “Also, with people making content and the amount of double standards that’s being called out. Child predators have been identified on this app. Careers have been ruined by ‘cancel culture’ because of mistakes made in the past.”
Throughout the entire debate that has been taking place over the past few months, there is only one thing that both sides seem to agree on: they are not changing their stances any time soon.
“It’s strange to see how quickly the country has been divided over an app,” senior Grace Moore said. “Neither side can come to an agreement and it’s frustrating to watch.”