This past Friday, President Trump announced his intentions to ban Tik Tok. In a statement to the press, he said “We’re banning them from the United States.”
Trump cited security concerns, claiming users are subject to data-mining from China. Tik Tok claims that it’s US user data is not subject to the Chinese government. Still, tensions between the two countries run high.
According to the company, US data stays put in the states while it is backed up in Singapore.
Media outlets and Trump himself listed China as the primary reason for him seeking its shut-down. However, that may not be the end of the story.
Tik Tok provides a platform for millions to post essentially whatever content they please. Comical videos, dancing, skits, and anything imaginable is on the app. One distinct side of the app features heated political debates and content, mostly created by young adults and teenagers.
So Why TikTok?
Content supporting both the left and right exist, but there is a strong presence of anti-Trump sentiment. Videos of creators blatantly criticizing the Trump administration gain enormous traction on the app in comparison to pro-Trump content. This is most likely due to Tik Tok’s user demographics consisting of a younger, generally less conservative crowd.
This content may seem confined to the realm of the internet. Yet Tik Tok has the ability to incite real-world events with very real effects. The President’s relatively recent rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma gained much attention for all the wrong reasons. Garnering “almost one million” ticket requests, the rally failed to even fill the 19,000 capacity arena that hosted the event. In fact, the estimated turnout was 6,200 people.
As it turns out that Tik Tok users were responsible for the dismal attendance. It became a trend on the app to request tickets, knowing that they wouldn’t actually go. This was all in an effort to embarrass, even “prank” the President. This was no small internet noise. It was an organized effort that saw people come together simply to damage the President’s ambitions.
The Election Is Near
With the Presidential election coming closer by the day, Trump should want to gain any advantage he has to secure re-election in November. Clearly, avoiding a massive embarrassment as seen in Tulsa is of utmost importance to Trump in the coming months. Claims of Chinese security breaches remain alleged. Yet, the staggering amount of content on Tik Tok that goes against Trump’s agendas, is quite clear.
Theories only intensified as the US-based tech giant Microsoft initiated negotiations with the Chinese company ByteDance over purchasing the app. If the deal were to go through, Microsoft pledged its goal of keeping data safe in the US.
Trump’s plans for banning the app through an executive order seem to be on hold. The legality of such an order is questioned, in addition to Microsoft’s negotiations.
The true intentions of Trump and ByteDance remain unclear. However, for now, the TikTok ban will have to wait. The platform will continue to serve as a creative outlet for users to do whatever they please.
And yes, that includes coming together to make fun of our President.