Amid possible TikTok ban, students share their thoughts

Students who use TikTok share their thoughts on the possible ban. Kassidy Tsikitas | Photo Editor

By Josh Siatkowski | Staff Writer

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to pass a bill that could ban TikTok — the Chinese-owned social media app used by over 100 million Americans — on American devices.

The bill, which cruised through the House in a 352-to-65 vote, creates an ultimatum for TikTok. In order to continue to be operated by U.S. web platforms and app stores, TikTok must sever its tie with its parent company, ByteDance, a Chinese internet company. According to CNN, Congress ruled that TikTok’s close connection with ByteDance creates a security threat for American users, as Chinese intelligence law states that ByteDance is required to hand over its users’ data upon the government’s request.

As the fate of the bill continues to unfold, The Lariat spoke to a few Baylor students to hear their opinions on TikTok and its future.

Carlsbad, Calif., sophomore Camille True, Katy junior Brooklin Way and Katy freshman McKenna Franco all said they trust the House’s ruling that TikTok is a security threat.

“I think [the government] definitely knows more about it than we do,” Way said. “They know what’s going on with other governments.”

The bill now heads to the Senate, where it must be approved by a simple majority. Despite its overwhelming success in the House, bipartisan support of the bill in the Senate and President Joe Biden’s vow to sign the bill into law, it will probably still be months before TikTok is faced with the decision to either split with ByteDance or lose its American users.

Franco said she was happy to see lawmakers treat internet security as a serious issue.

“I think internet security is something that’s not taken seriously at all, and there are so many children on these apps that are completely giving away their personal information,” Franco said.

However, the three students did not think the leak of personal data was the biggest threat on the app.

Franco said she was most concerned by the abundance of “uncensored, unverified and unreviewed material” that spreads rapidly through the app.

True said she was concerned primarily by TikTok’s ability to destroy attention spans and real-life relationships.

“They’re faster and shorter videos, so your attention and ability to have meaningful conversations is less,” True said.

Way said the biggest issue with TikTok is how much of its users’ time the app wastes. When asked how much time she spent on TikTok, Way said, “Way too much. Hours.”

Although the three students said they were happy to see Congress make a significant move regarding internet security, they agreed that the issues of attention span loss, technology addiction and the spread of misinformation will not go away, even if TikTok does.

Although True said she is hopeful that a TikTok ban could be a “habit breaker” for some users, she agreed with Franco that a ban would likely just see other apps like Instagram get more traffic.

“I think people will automatically latch onto something else,” Franco said.

Ultimately, the complex social and legal issues surrounding TikTok left the three students longing for the simpler days of social media.

“I just say bring back Vine,” True said.

Josh Siatkowski is a freshman Business Fellow from Oklahoma City, with majors in Economics and Professional Writing and Rhetoric. Josh is in his first semester at the Lariat, and he's excited to find interesting and important stories to share with his fellow students. He is still undecided about his post-college plans.