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The fastest-growing social media platform in the U.S. these days is TikTok. Increasingly, young users are abandoning platforms like Facebook and Twitter and embracing TikTok instead. TikTok has become the go-to platform for short, viral videos and it is tremendously addictive. But what many people might not realize is that TikTok is not some new Silicon Valley creation – instead, it’s a creation of Communist China, and that’s what has many older adults concerned.
TikTok is changing the way young people consume news
Most people in the 18-to-29 demographic no longer get their news from traditional media sources. And, increasingly, they don’t even get their news from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Instead, they are going to TikTok for their news. According to the latest Pew Research data, TikTok and Instagram are now the two leading sources for young people getting their news via social media.
That could explain why the White House has been spending so much time and effort courting TikTok influencers – the Biden administration has realized that any messaging about the U.S. economy needs to be going through TikTok. But you can immediately see why this is bad for our youth – if the only way they are getting their news is via viral videos, this is going to negatively impact the state of political discourse in our nation. You can’t do a funny dance and get the economy to tip out of a recession.
TikTok is changing the way people find content online
Just as worrisome, TikTok is becoming an alternative search engine for the 18-to-29 demographic. Instead of Google, they are now using TikTok. That might be great if they are trying to find funny videos about cats, but not so great if they want to know what’s happening in a place like Taiwan. Given that TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, there is obviously an incentive to control what TikTok users are seeing and hearing about Taiwan. The same goes for just about any issue or topic that impacts Communist China.
TikTok is destabilizing U.S. society
Some top academics are now claiming that TikTok is not just altering the minds of our youth, it is also being actively used as a tool to destabilize Western society and undermine the standing of America in the world. The key reason why this is happening is that TikTok is owned by a Chinese parent company, even if its U.S. operations are based in California. As some prominent politicians and intellectuals have pointed out, the best way to think about TikTok is that it is a surveillance and data-gathering tool of the Chinese state.
In a conversation with late night host and comedian Bill Maher, prominent NYU professor Scott Galloway suggested that TikTok should be banned in America. He argued that there is no separation at all between TikTok and the Chinese Communist Party. He further suggested that Americans should not be comfortable at all with this relationship. If we’re worried about Russian bots, then we should definitely be worried about the Chinese TikTok bots. For his full-throated denouncing of TikTok, Galloway received a massive ovation from Bill Maher’s studio audience.
Should we ban TikTok?
Near the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, there were efforts to ban TikTok from American soil. But as soon as Joe Biden came into office, everything seemed to be swept under the rug. No need to antagonize a geopolitical rival, right? Well, it might be time to revisit the argument about banning TikTok. Public sentiment seems to be shifting in this direction, and that could make it easier to take government action on this issue without facing a major public blowback.