CALIFORNIA, Md. – In recent months, the United States has been increasing its efforts to ban the popular social media app TikTok. The app, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has faced scrutiny from U.S. officials concerned about the app’s potential security risks.
On the 31st episode of The BayNet’s Podcast, “Get Real with Chris & Mark,” the hosts ‘Get Real’ with JJ Atchison, a BayNet employee, about whether TikTok is a national security risk and how much it is affecting mental health.
While Atchison didn’t describe himself as an avid scroller, he is The BayNet’s social media manager and uses the app up to four hours a week.
One of the main concerns is that TikTok collects data from its users, including their location and other personal information. Furthermore, the Chinese government could use this data for espionage or other malicious purposes.
“There are people that don’t think this is a data breach, and it’s just political rhetoric. Which is interesting because Donald Trump said we should ban TikTok two and a half years ago,” said Mark.
A ban on TikTok is not new. However, in August 2020, President Trump signed an executive order banning TikTok from the U.S. unless it was sold to an American company. The order cited national security concerns and the potential for the app to be used as a tool for Chinese government propaganda.
ByteDance quickly moved to find a buyer for TikTok’s U.S. operations, with Microsoft and Oracle emerging as potential suitors. However, negotiations fell through, and the deadline for the ban was pushed back multiple times.
On March 23, 2023, the latest hearing involved Shou Chew, the C.E.O. of TikTok, where he faced over five hours of questioning concerning China’s ties, data privacy, and the app’s effects on children.
“I read something that said this was his first-ever appearance publicly. He was always a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. I didn’t even think about it until we were having this conversation, was the guy even a real person?” questioned Mark.
“That’s a conspiracy theory in and of itself, but I do think there is something going on with this particular platform,” Mark continued.
Many experts and advocates argue that TikTok, like other social media platforms, can negatively affect users’ well-being, particularly regarding issues like body image and self-esteem.
“I’ll be flat-out honest with you. When I watch a handful of Reels or TikToks, it literary makes me anxious,” Mark expressed, “Maybe they know they are generating those types of reactions out of people. Maybe it does something to your brain.”
One of the main concerns is the app’s algorithm, which is designed to prioritize engaging content over other types of content. This means that users are more likely to see sensational, provocative, or otherwise attention-grabbing videos, which can contribute to feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt.
“The thing is, the algorithm, that’s a basic thing you’ll find in every social media platform, that’s not just TikTok,” explained Atchison. “TikTok, I would say, is the best at it.”
“When it comes to the data breaching… I get that. And if that is a real concern, that is something we should look at. So, I can’t speak on that part. But, I will speak on the social aspect and the fact that most of these congresspeople asking these questions, they seem out of touch,” Atchison reasoned.
In response to Atchison, Chris mentioned that one congressperson asked if TikTok connects to your WiFi.
“It brings up that conversation if these are the people that should be making these types of decisions,” commented Atchison.
Whether or not the U.S. will ban TikTok ultimately remains to be seen, but the app’s future in the country is far from certain. As cybersecurity concerns continue to grow, the debate over foreign-owned apps’ role in the U.S. will likely continue for some time.
Watch the full episode for why Mark thinks TikTok could be a form of brainwashing: https://youtu.be/nBZesOV97tQ
Once a week, Century 21 New Millennium Realtors Chris Hill and Mark Frisco ‘Get Real’ with topics surrounding life in Southern Maryland while showcasing local business tastings and highlighting hidden gems in the area.
You can watch or listen to previous episodes at: www.thebaynet.com/podcasts
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I’m all for banning it, along with Facebook and all other social media apps/sites, it’s the dumbest thing to come out next to cell phones
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