The popular Chinese app, TikTok, has captured the attention of many Americans of every demographic. It is a platform for funny videos, dancing, cooking, and so much more. The diversity of content paired with an algorithm which plays videos for specific audiences has positioned the app to be ultra-successful and highly addictive. Yet, despite the well received nature of the app, many speculate it has a sightly more insidious purpose: data mining for the Chinese Government. It is precisely the fear of the exploitation of American data which has led President Trump to threaten to ban the popular app.
Chinese authorities have condemned the President’s decision, maintaining that it is just another mechanism for Trump to thwart the success of Chinese companies. This sentiment is further reflected by the ongoing trade war and strenuous relationship between the two super powers. The Chinese tabloid Global Times accused the US government of “cowardice” and alluded to the US’s desire to kill China’s most competitive companies.
In response to the threat of there has been talk of TikTok being sold to a California based company. Though Chinese reporters have referred to this strategy as a “smash and grab” and deliberate disruption of Chinese tech. They moreover suggested that they will “by no means accept the theft of a Chinese technology company.” This puts the future of TikTok in a precarious situation.
Teens across the app have responded to the threat of the ban with an outcry and are desperately trying to save the app. Some have used comedy to flatter the President in hopes that it will encourage him to change his mind and allow the app to continue being used. Many famous creators generate their livelihoods through the app and are now faced with the grim reality of unemployment.
Some speculate that if the ban does go through, the US will see a retaliation from Chinese individuals in the form of boycotts of US companies, among similar tactics. The tech confrontation currently under way between the two largest economies in the world is a microcosm of the increasing polarization between the two. The intertwined relationship of the economics of the United States and China means conflict between the two is especially precarious as they are largely interconnected. Some have suggested that the rising tensions are indicative of a “new cold war” which could mean a whole array of difficulties would arise. For now, TikTok is not banned, but for many individuals there is a consensus that the death of the app is imminent.