TikTok, created in 2017, has become known worldwide as an app for goofy and quirky short videos. The app is owned by ByteDance, which is a tech company based in Beijing. TikTok’s popularity has erupted over the past year, and the coronavirus pandemic has only increased the usage of the app as people try to escape the boredom of lockdown and quarantine. Governments have been expressing concern over using the app as they are concerned about the app sharing data with the Chinese Government. This is a cause for concern, as a majority of TikTok users are teenagers and young adults.
Sixty percent of the app’s 800 million users are between the ages of 16 to 24. TikTok has become a gateway for children, teenagers, and young adults to escape from the boredom of being stuck at home with little to do. This should be concerning, as the app comes with many dangers, especially to young children not aware. The biggest concern that parents of children should be mindful of is the stalkers and strangers that follow children’s TikTok accounts. Children tend to focus on the next viral video that they can make to get as many viewers as possible, not about who it is that is viewing the videos.
The internet, games, websites, and social media companies were not designed with kids in mind, and TikTok is no different. Over three months, a study in the UK showed hundreds of comments from strangers on children’s posts. Although TikTok removed the majority of the comments, the video-sharing app did not remove the profiles and so they remained on the platform. Even if a user turns their profile from public to private, strangers are still able to send messages. The dangers it poses to children is not the only reason to be wary of TikTok; Governments around the world are talking about banning the app in fear of it sharing data to Chinese Governments.
Companies in China must hand over information at any time to the Chinese Government. As TikTok is made by a company based in Beijing, countries around the world are worried about the app sharing the data it gathered to the Chinese Government. India banned the app last week, and the US is soon to follow. The US Army and Navy have already prohibited its service members from downloading the app to any government-issued phone. Even Amazon is concerned and has ordered employees to remove the app from their phones.
TikTok has become extremely popular over the past year, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. While Governments are concerned that, ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, will have to share information it’s gathered to the Chinese Government. Sharing information to foreign governments should not be the only concern, as the video-sharing app poses dangers to young children, teenagers, and young adults, who make up a majority of its users.