- Reuben Rapose
First things first, I’ve given the app many tries and never really found any content I enjoy watching on it because somehow I always end up in the unholy circle of hell that is mediocre lip syncing and mindless dancing. No matter how much I try to manipulate my feed results by liking relevant videos so that the app can give me similar suggestions according to my taste. I more often than not, landed on content that I didn’t enjoy watching. But the times when I did land up on content that I enjoyed, it was really creative and it blew me away (like this guy who dances under water!).
Tell me this isn’t impressive!
Another issue that plagues the TikTok community is a growing trend of pedophilia which doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. I’d go as far as to say that the app tries to normalize pedophilia. As well as encouraging young people to focus entirely on their looks and being narcissistic since that is what people are rewarding on TikTok. I definitely don’t like that as an example for young children. There’s a lot of other reasons too for not liking the app even after finding content that stands out from the mediocre dancing & lip-syncing videos.
But, with all that being said, just because I don’t like TikTok do I want to see it fail? Yeah. Period. But do I want to see it banned? No. I’d like TikTok to go the same way MySpace went where it just fizzled out of popularity when something better came along (Not really a fan of Facebook either but admittedly it was the superior service compared to MySpace at the time). That’s what I’d like to see happen if TikTok didn’t improve itself over time. But unfortunately, it seems, the Governments have stepped in and thrown themselves onto this pile by saying that they would be banning TikTok themselves. Now, I understand why governments across the world are taking actions against TikTok. Some countries like India, have outright banned it over privacy concerns because allegedly TikTok collects personal user data. I understand why governments across the world are even talking about banning the app, but I never really understand when the first solution is to ban it. It’s outrageous to live in a society where the most famous app in the world could be banned without giving a thought to any other alternatives. I’m no expert, but I’m sure there are other ways to combat it without outright eliminating it (like forcing TikTok to operate it’s data centers locally). I don’t want to see what appears to be an innocent app with a lot shady things going on be banned without even considering alternate solutions when so many people’s lives revolve around it. For some people, this is their reality. They are full-time TikTok content creaters (Congratulations to them!). This ban will deny millions of creators a platform and eventually a livelihood, which is heartbreaking. Especially during this pandemic when TikTok kept a lot of us engaged and entertained throughout.
To outright ban an entire app seemingly overnight is just a really bad precedent to set because what’s to stop that power from being used in other areas. What’s to stop the Government from shutting down Twitter, or Instagram. Point being, if you set the precedent to take down the most popular app in the world without considering any other options, that makes it very dangerous going forward for everything else on the internet as it could happen to anything else at any given time. I understand it being a security concern because of all the data harvesting. But honestly, It’s 2020, almost every single thing we interact with in the world is harvesting data from us. Every time our greasy little fingertips touch a smartphone, our data is being collected and distributed. TikTok is no different in that regard, with the only difference being that TikTok is Chinese owned and operated. Instead of being a US app collecting data and selling it to China, it’s a chinese app directly collecting it themselves. And that seems to be the biggest pressure point for a lot of people.
Privacy is an illusion in 2020. All of our data is being collected whether we want to admit it or not. That’s the sad reality of things. VPN’s are super important (Please give this a thought if you value your privacy). Everything that we exist in, is collecting data on us whether for targeted advertisements or something else. And again, TikTok is nothing special in that regard. The app is accused of being a very thorough data collection software. Which is why I understand that it’s very important to talk about it and figure out a course of action. But I can never support countries (like India) who have outright banned the app. The banning of any app like this should not be celebrated because it is a very dangerous tool to employ and can lead to a lot of other problems going forward. Once you open that pandora’s box of banning apps overnight, it is never closing again. When you start to normalize banning and censorship, you are paving the way for a huge mess of problems.
There’s a lot of people out there who fool themselves into thinking that the government is going to do this just this one time for this really evil app. And I have to say, that’s just a really silly thought. When you give any government that power, they aren’t going to give it back. This power is going to become a part of their batman-utility-belt which they can use again, at anytime, which is pretty scary going forward for obvious reasons. We should never celebrate when things get banned or censored as it’s a very slippery slope and a very dangerous thing to encourage.
Now of course there are cases where it’s warranted for some things to be banned like in the case of TikTok, if all the allegations against it are true. But where do you draw the line? When you are targeting the biggest app in the world, it leaves a lot of gray area if you’re just going to ban it, and how do we ensure the decision was fair? Could this be a strategic way to take power from Chinese apps and place it in the hands of Western competitors like Instagram? (Who are already sitting on enough data to be able to influence elections and change perceptions of people unknowingly). And just so, there are many things needed to be considered before celebrating the ban of TikTok. Let’s start by having an open conversation, and assessing various alternatives. Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reading!
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