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The Falconer

The Student News Site of Fauquier High School

The Falconer

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The Student News Site of Fauquier High School

The Falconer

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Thanks for reading The Falconer. We're happy to provide you with award-winning student journalism, free from bias, conflicts of interest, and paywalls. We're able to continue to operate through the generous support of our local community. If you're able, please consider making a donation. Any amount is incredibly helpful and allows us to pursue new and exciting opportunities.

TikTok Threatens America’s Identity and Security. Ban it.

TikToks+extensive+ties+to+China+are+merely+the+tip+of+the+iceberg+of+issues+it+creates+for+America.
Solen Feyissa/Flickr
TikTok’s extensive ties to China are merely the tip of the iceberg of issues it creates for America.

The first time I ever heard of TikTok, it was on a news report about its rising popularity nationwide. In today’s world of interconnectivity and global trends, social media apps come and go in the blink of an eye – Vine’s dramatic fall from grace comes to mind. I thought the same would happen to TikTok, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The short-form video sharing app has taken America by storm, proudly touting that it services more than 150 million U.S. users. And the app’s addictive properties make it hard to put it down; as one Brown University study found, its user interface is “functionally akin to slot machines.” The addictive nature of the app is concerning, but it’s nothing new to Washington’s top decision-makers. What has rightly perturbed Washington, however, is the owner of TikTok: Beijing-based ByteDance, a Chinese company with ties to its communist party and alleged cooperation with the highest levels of Beijing.

Consequently, a recent U.S. law requires apps such as TikTok to sell to a U.S.-based company or face an impending ban. It did not take long for critics to denounce the legislation; however, their perspective remains severely flawed. TikTok is among the greatest threats to not only our security, but our national identity, and its place can no longer be justified in our society.

The security concerns of TikTok are nothing new to those who have been paying attention – the U.S. military recognized the signs long ago and banned it from their devices, with a wave of individual states that followed suit. TikTok collects a gargantuan amount of data from its users, and its ability to “phone home” this data to China is disputed, though concerning. While TikTok has repeatedly tried to assure Americans of their data security practices, their claims have rightfully fallen upon deaf ears. But a larger, more sinister threat remains that was the primary reason why Capitol Hill pushed the legislation through – political manipulation.

With millions of active American users, subtle changes in an app’s AI can have population-wide effects. TikTok is not beholden to U.S. regulatory bodies in the same aspect as other U.S.-based apps are, and its administrators could subtly influence everything from public opinion to elections, with nothing more than the click of a mouse. This is enormous power for a nation’s adversary to have, and it should come as no surprise that top Chinese diplomats held secret closed-door meetings with Congressional staffers to try and stop the bill.

But the best argument in favor of banning TikTok is to look at other countries that have already done so – of which there are 19, including China themselves. ByteDance’s Chinese equivalent, Douyin, an app that focuses on education and science, limits kids to 40 minutes a day. But TikTok focuses on addictive, vapid and insipid content, increasingly with sexual themes targeted towards American children.

If TikTok is banned in the very nation that created it, why should we tolerate it here? It’s time for America to recognize the threats TikTok poses and finally ban it for good.

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Thanks for reading The Falconer. We're happy to provide you with award-winning student journalism since 1963, free from bias, conflicts of interest, and paywalls. We're able to continue with the generous support of our local community. If you're able, please consider making a donation. Any amount is incredibly helpful and allows us to pursue new and exciting opportunities.

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About the Contributor
David Achter
David Achter, Editor-in-Chief
Hey! My name is David Achter, and I'm an Editor-in-Chief. I'm a senior, and this is the third year I've worked with the newspaper. I am a volunteer EMT and enjoy hiking, working with computers, and trivia. I'm excited to be here and am looking forward to another great year!
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