In Defense of TikTok

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AARON YOO VIA FLICKR

TikTok, beloved of many a teen, has come under scrutiny for its ties to China and its lax data privacy policies.

By EMILY ELLIS, Asst. Opinions Editor

Listen. I totally understand where you are coming from.

TikTok is a multi-billion dollar corporation that takes advantage of its consumers and profits off of their exploitation. It’s evil. I get it.

That being said, I cannot deny that I have spent countless hours curled up on my couch, scrolling endlessly through a feed of repetitive and hilarious content. Watching young adults memorize weird dances, confuse their parents with illogical acts and brag about their own lives serves as the ultimate form of Gen Z entertainment. 

TikTok receives a lot of hate online from communities arguing that it is a complete and total waste of time. Critics raise security concerns regarding the fact that TikTok stores private information that third-party data centers may potentially steal. While these concerns are valid, they fail to understand the historical origins of the app itself.

TikTok began as a Chinese company, and it only entered the American mainstream culture when it merged with an app called musical.ly. Therefore, the Chinese government and the original parent company, Bytedance, allegedly possess close ties with the app. 

Reports have shown that videos circulated in TikTok have been used in advertisements without the user’s permission. While this may seem like an incredible breach of privacy, TikTok states in its policy that all material shared on the app is considered company property and may be utilized in any form. While this information might be difficult to uncover, all content producers agree to the TikTok terms and conditions and legally hand over their work. 

All TikTok contributors should be aware of the fact that their videos do not legally belong to them. While this is certainly an ethical issue, it should not prevent users from participating in the app. The act of posting a video publically makes it available for wide audiences to view. If a user is not comfortable with their videos being posted in other places, they shouldn’t make it available to millions of people through TikTok in the first place. 

Other major social media companies such as Facebook and Instagram data mine their users to create targeted ads. These corporations have been criticized for their privacy policies, but they are still in place today. TikTok’s policies are very similar, and they should not face exaggerated scorn. 

With other social media companies are flourishing regardless of their privacy policies, TikTok encounters harsh criticism. This trend begs the question: why is TikTok being targeted rather than other platforms? Is it because one is Chinese and the others are American?

Whenever authors refer to TikTok, they include its Chinese origin. In many cases, the app is referred to as “China’s TikTok” and is labeled a national security risk. The fact that TikTok is a foreign app might be unduly affecting its reputation in America. 

Additionally, TikTok contributors do not profit off of their own work, and while this is a matter of large discussion and conflict, it does not seem to be changing any time soon. The only group who profits from the content produced on TikTok is the company itself, and all users and contributors soon discover this.

Despite the criticism that TikTok receives, it is ultimately a celebration of life and the random relationships and events that make everyday life beautiful. Similar to YouTube or other content-based apps, it allows people from all over the world to communicate and collaborate in interesting and powerful ways. TikTok became the “ideal” social platform due to the fact that its videos are short and comedic, allowing Americans to indulge and share their lives with others. TikTok content producers are overwhelmingly in high school and college, and their videos represent the struggles and joys that students experience. Focusing on love and relationships, these videos provide a glimpse into the lives of men and women across America. 

TikTok might pose some data dangers, but it forms a community of people who inspire laughter and love. 

If you haven’t taken the time to check it out, you should. It is cringy and weird and often downright ridiculous, but within an hour, you might find yourself belly-laughing along with me.