TikTok Troubles: Privacy & Politics

TikTok Troubles: Privacy & Politics

01 April 2024 |

Social Media

With many news stories currently circulating speaking to TikTok’s potential ban in the United States, Admatic is here to answer some key questions about why the TikTok ban is potentially going ahead, and what that means for those of us in Australia using the platform.

What is the controversy with TikTok?

In recent years, TikTok has surged in popularity, becoming one of the most downloaded apps globally. However, its rise has been accompanied by controversies, leading to discussions about potential bans in certain countries, including the United States. The debate surrounding TikTok’s ban in the US is complex, involving concerns related to national security, data privacy, content moderation, and geopolitical tensions.

Who is Bytedance, and why should we be concerned?

One of the primary reasons behind the scrutiny of TikTok is its Chinese ownership. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese tech company. This ownership structure has raised concerns among US policymakers and security experts about the app’s data handling practices. There are concerns that user data collected by TikTok could be accessed or manipulated by the Chinese government, potentially compromising national security.

How safe is your data on TikTok?

Data privacy is another significant concern associated with TikTok. The app collects vast amounts of user data, including personal information, location data, browsing history, and preferences. While TikTok claims to prioritise user privacy and data security, sceptics argue that the app’s data practices are not transparent enough, and there are fears of data misuse or unauthorised access. Considering the data collected by TikTok is similar to data collected by other social media platforms such as Meta, Snapchat and Pinterest, it would appear that there are underlying political currents at play.

Is your safety a priority?

Content moderation is a contentious issue on TikTok, with debates over the platform’s handling of harmful or inappropriate content. Critics point out instances of misinformation, hate speech, bullying, and other problematic content circulating on the app. While TikTok has taken steps to improve content moderation, such as implementing community guidelines and using AI algorithms, challenges remain in effectively policing the platform’s vast user-generated content.

Why do politics influence TikTok?

The geopolitical landscape also plays a role in discussions about TikTok’s potential ban in the US. Tensions between the US and China, particularly regarding trade and technology competition, have spilled over into the tech sector. TikTok’s Chinese ownership has made it a focal point in broader discussions about data sovereignty, cybersecurity, and international relations.

Is there anything else involved?

The legal challenges surrounding TikTok’s ban further complicate the situation. TikTok has challenged the US government’s actions in court, arguing that the bans were politically motivated. These legal battles have added layers of complexity to the debate and brought to light the broader issues at stake in regulating digital platforms with global reach.

When will we know the result?

The fate of TikTok in the US is uncertain; with ongoing discussions, legal proceedings, and potential regulatory actions shaping its course of action. The case of TikTok highlights the complex intersection of technology, national security, data privacy, and international relations in the digital age. It also raises broader questions about the responsibilities of tech companies, the role of governments in regulating digital platforms, and the implications for global tech ecosystems.

Finally, what does this mean for us in Australia?

Similar to other countries, concerns about data privacy, national security, and content moderation have been raised regarding TikTok’s operations in Australia. . TikTok has already been banned on all Government issues devices in Australia as of April 2023, however, the final decision on whether TikTok will be banned or face regulatory measures in Australia depends on various factors, including government policies, industry consultations, and technological assessments. As of now, no definitive action has been taken to ban TikTok in Australia, but the situation continues to evolve as policy makers evaluate the app’s impact and risks.