69% of USF Opposes a TikTok Ban

Graphic by Delaney Lumpkin/Graphics Center

The House of Representatives passed the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act on Mar. 13, which aims to have apps controlled by a “foreign adversary” to sell their application or be banned in the United States. The bill is primarily aimed at the popular social media app TikTok, which is linked to China through its parent company ByteDance. If it passes through the Senate, it could threaten Americans’ access to Tiktok. Legislators worry about foreign influence, claiming as a Chinese company, ByteDance is connected to the Chinese government. 

The government’s bill would do little to address national security concerns. Instead, it capitalizes on anti-China sentiments to try to eliminate a threat that isn’t there.

The Biden administration has stated that the bill isn’t aimed at banning TikTok, but rather at forcing ByteDance to sell. However, the fact that ByteDance has already signaled that a sale won’t happen, coupled with how limited the potential buyer pool is, means that the more than 170 million Americans who use the app are facing a ban. They would likely no longer be able to download the app, and may resort to using a VPN to access the social media platform. 

TikTok is primarily popular among young people, with nearly half its user base being under 30 years old. To get a sense of USF’s response to the bill, the Foghorn conducted a poll on Fizz, an anonymous college campus social media app, where users must have a “@dons.usfca.edu” email address to become a member. The Foghorn asked, “Do you support the TikTok ban bill?” The poll received 2,076 votes, with a margin of error of +/-2%. A large majority, 69%, or 1447 votes, of respondents answered “No”. “Yes” received 20%,407 votes, and 11% of respondents, 222 votes, did not support a ban, but supported a divestment from ByteDance, a sale of TikTok to another company. It is important to note that Fizz demographics skew young, with the majority of users being first-years and sophomores. The results are a more extreme version of the national trend of falling support for a TikTok ban.

There are valid concerns about the app, especially with its data collection. TikTok’s algorithm has been described as eerily accurate in delivering relatable, personalized content. With each scroll, TikTok gathers specific and personal information and uses it to ultimately maximize the amount of time users spend on the app.

However, TikTok isn’t the only app to do so. In fact, an investigation by the Washington Post found that TikTok’s data collection practices are industry standard, gathering about the same amount of data as American counterpart Meta’s platforms. If the government has a problem with TikTok’s data collection, they should be passing bills that regulate privacy across all social media, not just TikTok. Moreover, allegations that TikTok exploits this access to information, especially at the behest of the Chinese government, have remained just that —allegations, as reported by CNN

Banning TikTok wouldn’t make us safer. Instead, it just takes a page out of China’s book and restricts our ability to practice free speech.

Editor-in-Chief: Megan Robertson, Chief Copy Editor: Sophia Siegel, Managing Editor: Jordan Premmer, Opinion Editor: Chisom Okorafor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *