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From politicians to parents, TikTok is ticking off a lot of people. They say It is a Chinese Communist Party spy platform. It is brainwashing kids with “wokism.” It targets teens with dangerous content. It causes depression for impressionable Gen Zers. It is addictive. And now it’s filling children’s heads with antisemitic propaganda.

Extremists want to ban it completely. It has already been outlawed in Montana. Is TikTok as bad as they say? Is it worse than Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, and other social media sites? Let’s take a look.

What is TikTok And Why Is It So Popular?

TikTok is a short-form video-sharing platform that hosts user-submitted videos. It allows users to both create and watch short video content, primarily 15 seconds or less in length. People love micro-entertainment and short video snippets, and this is one of the main reasons for TikTok’s success. It already has 2.5 billion downloads.

According to Deborah D’Souza from Investopedia, creators can add effects like filters, background music, and stickers to their videos. They can collaborate on content and create split-screen duet videos even if they’re in different locations. Lip-syncing and dancing are the most popular themes. Plus, it’s quick and easy to use.

Although TikTok is mostly entertainment and comedy, it is increasingly used for infotainment. It offers advice and tips from influencers who have millions of followers. Now, it has become a tool for political propaganda.

How Is TikTok Different From Other Platforms? 

All social media sites gather data from users, no matter what they say, and they sell data to marketers. Google has been doing it for years. That’s how they make money. But while Facebook is primarily a social network for connecting with friends and family, TikTok is a video-sharing app where users can upload and watch videos.

Is TikTok A Chinese Spy Network?

Lawmakers say TikTok is a national security threat. Not so fast. Although It is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese technology company, security experts haven’t yet seen solid evidence that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is spying on us.           

Governments in the United States, England, and Canada are banning the use of TikTok on employee’s phones. The White House (half-heartedly) demanded that ByteDance sell the app or face an outright ban.

Montana Governor Gianforte signed a bill banning TikTok within the territorial jurisdiction of Montana. Content creators say the ban violates free speech and will cause them economic harm. In an ongoing legal battle, plaintiffs are seeking a block in the bill before it goes into effect on January 1, 2024.

But do all these allegations add up? Officials haven’t given us details about why they are targeting TikTok, but maybe there’s not much substance behind the bluster.

Parental Oversight

Once again, as with all kids and social media, it comes down to parental oversight and guidance. Social media is here to stay and TikTok is Gen Z’s favorite site ages 16 to 24. And the number of users in other demographics is climbing. Parents need to provide guidance to children under 18. If you’re 18 or over, still hooked on TikTok, and not an influencer, you’re just having fun and wasting time.

The battle between social media companies and parents continues. “Tech companies do not have the right to speak to children over or against their parents’ authority,” says Clare Morell, a senior policy analyst at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “We are trying to restore parental authority and oversight.”

We think banning TikTok from government phones is a good idea but until it is actually proven that the CCP is gathering data about American users, let it go and let it be. And what are the Chinese going to gather – a 5 year old kid lip-syncing Taylor Swift or a shopping cart race at Walmart? TikTok is a fun way to pass the time, as long as it’s done in moderation and/or with parental supervision.