The popular social media app, TikTok, has been under fire from the Trump administration as of late. The platform, owned by Chinese tech company Byte Dance, has attracted negative attention from the Trump administration due to concerns that the app exploits and tracks American user data. President Trump announced that the app must be sold by September 15th to an American company otherwise it will be banned.
The President’s son, Donald Trump Jr, expressed in a seven-minute video on Triller—which he praised for being an “American Company”—warned parents of the risks associated with the use of the popular app. He lambasted TikTok for its close relationship with the Chinese government and advised against the use of the app due to Chinese governmental interference.
Trump Jr continued his critique of the app in a statement to parents. “When you have an app like TikTok where the Chinese government could be turning on your kid’s camera, turning on your kid’s video, listening in, turning on their mic at any random time not just when they’re using the app.” He continued to say that “this goes so much further. Having access to all your photos and contacts and emails and the spyware that’s there. I mean this is something that could haunt your kids forever.”
The concerns over the internet safety of American children are indicative of the general distrust in the Chinese government. Tensions between the United States and China have been high due to trade wars, technology firm competitiveness, and most recently due to the coronavirus outbreak. Donald Trump Jr. closed his video with an attack on China related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump Jr. claimed “they lied to the world about its virulence. They lied to the world about the way it was transmitted. They minimized the threat to the world. You think they’re going to be good with your data? You think they’re going to not weaponize your kids data eventually against them?”
This closing plea echoes the anti-China sentiment that has been bubbling in America for quite some time. The attack on TikTok is just another manifestation of concerns about the growing power of China. The President’s decision to ban the app unless it is sold to an American company is a good step towards improving national security, but it also might be too little to late. For many, the damage is already done.