Loyola High School students exuded a sense of excitement and positivity surrounding the TikTok a year ago. Now, due to developing investigations regarding the safety of the app, the universal renown for the free-form media app is, at the very least, slightly tarnished. The charm of the simple editing capability on the app has worn off for many students, as Cubs have transitioned to using the app strictly for entertainment purposes, and moved away from creating content.
Junior William Blair, who has amassed over 110k followers on TikTok said, “I have stopped posting [on TikTok]almost altogether, so deleting it might be next.”
On August 6th, President Donald Trump gave TikTok a 45-day ultimatum: banning the app if it is not acquired under an American parent company. Despite other theorized reasons for Trump’s desire to ban the app, the Trump administration claims TikTok poses a threat to national security, a statement that was reason alone for students to become concerned over their usage of the app.
TikTok is not the only media company to be investigated for mining data off of users’ devices, as programs such as LinkedIn and Facebook came under scrutiny due to similar questionable security practices. Hundreds of millions of Americans have downloaded the app as a form of entertainment, some individuals completely blind to the potential risks of uploading personal information.
Blair adds, “The dangers are definitely overlooked by a lot of people… some people will not have an understanding, if it does get banned, of why it is getting banned.”
On the contrary, others like senior Ben Newbern are aware of the data farming occurring through the TikTok app, but are not too concerned about his vital data becoming extracted.
Newbern notes, “I don’t have my bank information on my phone. I don’t have my social security number. In my notes app, I have a list of my favorite movies, and that’s pretty much it…. I don’t have valuable information on my phone, so I’m not too worried.”
Despite the commotion, students still enjoy using the app, and would prefer an alternative solution to a flat out ban.
Junior Colin Jacobs says, “I think it would be unfortunate if the app was banned. I think the better alternative would be for a U.S. company to buy out TikTok, or at least the U.S. section of TikTok.”
TikTok’s format is part of a niche in entertainment that captivates its users’ attention for deceptively long periods of time. As an escape from school-work or current events, many young users download the app in search of a quick laugh.
Newbern says, “It is so appealing because no one has an attention span, and they just want to watch videos that are thirty seconds long.”
These three Cubs would feel more comfortable using TikTok if it was under U.S. ownership, even if the data mining continued.
Having visited China, Jacobs says “It’s really different than how we have it here. Access to the internet is really hard to come by, and it is completely how the government controls its people.”
Regardless of their political views, these three Cubs seem to agree that Trump’s initial decision to ban the app was justified. However, students are holding on to the app until mid-September, when it will be either officially banned from the United States or bought by a United States company.
In the middle of a pandemic that takes more and more casualties by the day and with the ever-growing public unrest in the face of police brutality cases, some question Trump’s sense of priority.
Newbern argues, “We should be focusing on much more important things right now,” in regards to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
However, while acknowledging the many issues our country faces, some point out that the Trump administration has remained persistent in the attempt to curb China’s possible infiltration of the U.S. population through Tik Tok, justifying his administration’s top-priority concern of the social media platform.