Questioning The Future Of TikTok

By Julie Prisco
In 2016, the insanely popular app TikTok launched. Users started out posting 15 second videos dancing to popular songs and funny skits. The app’s ability to curate a feed specific to an individual user’s interests, humor and song preferences led TikTok to quickly gain traction and become one of the most popular social media platforms in the world.
What started out as a video sharing app quickly became so much more. Now, not only can users post videos as long as 10 minutes and photo slideshows, the content available has increased in quality and diversity. TikTok users share more than trending dances and comedy skits, now some users visit the app as a source for easy recipes, style tips, movie and show recommendations and reviews. In addition, the app has become a marketing tool for large businesses to spread information on their company and for small businesses to promote themselves.
While the app is wildly popular amongst children, teens and adults, the U.S. has raised questions about the app’s security. In mid-March, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a measure that gives ByteDance (the Chinese internet company that developed TikTok) a choice to sell within six months or lose access to the app stores and web-hosting services in the U.S.
Lawmakers have tried to regulate the app due to its ties to China. In 2020, Former President Donald Trump publicly attacked TikTok, threatening to ban it from the U.S. on the grounds that the Chinese Communist Party could use data gathered on its users to spy on U.S. citizens. U.S. Senators have questioned the safety of children using the app. In the U.S. TikTok users under the age of 13 have a limited experience with additional safety features.
With the app under scrutiny again, lawmakers are again arguing that the app threatens national security because the Chinese government could use TikTok to spy on Americans or weaponize it to influence the U.S. public by amplifying or suppressing certain content.
Popular TikTokers and TikTok enjoyers across the U.S. are worried about the future of their favorite app and entertainment source being taken away from them or sold to a new company that will make too many changes to the app.
As an avid TikTok fan myself, I share worries about TikTok’s future. Many people see TikTok as a distraction and waste of time. But for the majority of TikTok’s users, the app is a way to decompress after a long day with a couple of laughs. I can go on TikTok after the work day and scroll for twenty minutes and be in a completely different head space; away from the stress of the day and ready to get back into the things I enjoy in my free time.
Losing access to the TikTok users’ and fans’ love not only means losing a source of entertainment, it is losing an online community. Since TikTok curates the users’ feed based on previously watched videos, what a user is linking and commenting on and actively searching up, it’s easy to find a community of others that enjoy the same jokes, pop culture, entertainment and more.
Fans of popular TV shows can find other super fans and share videos about their favorite characters. Avid video game players can find others to learn tips and tricks from. Aspiring chefs learn different cooking methods and recipes. Students can find videos sharing studying resources. College graduates can find videos on résumé design and interview skills.
Personally, I have found a community of book lovers. I follow accounts that read the same books I do and post videos about their favorite scenes, plot theories or share other media similar to the books I can’t get enough of.
As a TikTok user, I hope the app can be bought by a company that will respect the app. As cliche as it might sound, don’t fix something that isn’t broken.

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