TikTok? Or Tik-Not?

By Pulse Staff

The “Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act” is otherwise known as the TikTok ban and it passed the U.S. House of Representatives on March 13. The U.S. Senate seems to be slow walking the bill, according to multiple news agencies, but the initial step to a major change in the social media landscape has students at the University of Findlay talking. Some are extremely concerned, like UF freshman Amarion Harris.

“It feels like I’m losing a part of me for real,” Harris said. “That’s all I do.”

Others, like freshman Nate Biggers, are not as worried.

“Honestly, I can go without it,” Biggers said. “I really don’t see an issue with it being banned or not. I would rather have it not be banned. I use it every day. It’s my prime thing I use to watch videos.”

A summary of the bill on congress.gov states “Communications applications that are owned and operated by companies controlled by foreign adversary countries present a clear threat to the national security of the United States. This is because such applications can be used by those countries to collect vast amounts of data on Americans, conduct espionage campaigns, and push misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda on the American public.”

The bill isn’t just about TikTok but any app that is controlled by a foreign adversary. The bill states if an app is discovered to be controlled by a foreign adversary, the app must be divested so that it’s no longer in the foreign adversary’s control within 180 days. If not then entities, such as the Apple store, wouldn’t be allowed to distribute the app or provide web-hosting services for it.

TikTok’s parent company is ByteDance, which also owns CapCut.

Dr. Megan Adams, Associate Professor of Communication, not only teaches digital media and visual story telling classes at UF but owns her own video production firm, Homeplace Creative, with her husband. She’s not sure the ban can address the core issues it wants to and potentially opens a pandora’s box.

“We have been watching Congress for years dance back and forth about what they’re going to do about these social media companies,” Adams said. “We have all these restrictions placed on the television industry but social media is still the wild, wild west.”

While the FCC has regulated radio and TV, social media is a much larger and integrated medium. The Pew Research Center released a study in January that says 62 percent of U.S. adults ages 18-29 say they use TikTok. It’s the fifth most popular social media platform coming in behind YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Adams advises her marketing clients to not just use social media as a way to drive eyes to their business but to create a community beyond social media.

“I do think there’s a deeper commentary there,” Adams said. “Whether it’s your whole marketing scheme or you’re an influencer or content creator-anyone whose livelihood is dependent on social media, it would definitely make me stop and think. If most of your marketing is dependent on TikTok it can be gone overnight.”

The concerns surrounding TikTok range from data collection and privacy issues for U.S. citizens to foreign meddling in the U.S. Presidential election in the fall.

UF freshman Jackson Reed is not sure the ban is worth the effort.

“I think it’s weird,” Reed said. “I feel like our country has bigger things to worry about. It just seems like it’s unnecessary.”