Why I swore off Tik Tok

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Madden Shuffler, Staff Writer

When I learned that President Trump was going to ban Tik Tok I thought about all of my Tik-Tok-addicted friends. No more will an app take up so much of their time, I thought to myself. This world would become a better place without a bunch of teenagers addicted to an app. This was not a very popular belief, as many criticized the president for only wanting to take down Tik Tok for political reasons or xenophobia. I had already sworn to never redownload that app, as I had deleted it years ago. Hidden behind all of the one minute Tik Tok videos is something a lot more sinister. 

Tik Tok addiction is a very serious problem. The average user aged 4-15 spends 80 minutes a day on Tik Tok. I talked to 11th grader Daisy Koffler who said she used to use Tik Tok for 2-3 hours a day before she cut herself off. She also said Tik Tok is, “A really big problem because people are on it all of the time. People try to go on for 5 min and it turns into 50 mins.” Way too many times I have heard friends talk about how they went to bed so late because they were on Tik Tok. The addictive nature of the app makes it very hard to put down. This app is fueling younger generations addiction to screens and lack of physical contact and communication. 

The second serious issue is privacy concerns. As you may know, Tik Tok is controlled by a Chinese company called Byte Dance, which is based in Beijing. This is an issue as China has been known to engage in privacy violations on American citizens. I also talked to 11th grader Zohair Hussain, who recently cut back on using Tik Tok. He said, “the fact that it is potentially being banned in many countries raises the point that tik tok may be a not so safe app to use.” He is not alone in his concern. Last July, famous gamer and streamer Tyler Blevins aka Ninja tweeted that he would delete Tik Tok and he hopes its taken over by a less intrusive company. Zohair also said, “I felt like having it on my phone, it could track my location or have other privacy concerns, which I didn’t feel comfortable with.” Tik Tok has engaged in farming information on American users. It knows everything about us, which is shown by the fact that it shows other Tik Tokers in your area. Tik Tok stores all of its data in servers in the US and Singapore and they claim to not share information with China, and try to distance themselves from China. This is not enough, as China can force cooperation. This relationship is very disturbing. Another issue is that they can interfere with our elections, like Russia did with the 2016 election using facebook. This is a threat to our democracy. While it may not seem like a big deal that we are signing all of our information on our phones away to Tik Tok, It is very concerning. There is concern that Tik Tok can take users information including location and even mess with the election. Many are quick to ignore this and claim that is an overstatement but we must be careful. 

Another concerning part of Tik Tok is the algorithms which cause political and ideological echo chambers. Because of the “for you page”, users are recommended videos based on what they watch. This leads to users only seeing certain types of Tik Toks and it leads to issues of radicalization and echo chambers. There are conservative and liberal parts of Tik Tok filled with users who only think a certain way. These are all reasons why I am committed to not using Tik Tok. If you are still not convinced, I would suggest doing some more research, because it is very concerning what you might find I am urging you, next time you log onto Tik Tok, to keep these things in mind.