Jenna: Social media is a very big part of our daily lives, and has become an essential form of communication and pleasure. Picturing a day without social media seems virtually impossible for many since interacting with people online has become a way of life. Nowadays, there are over ten main social media platforms that many people use every day such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, and most recently, TikTok.
TikTok is a short-form, video-sharing app that allows users to create and share 15-second videos and now even up to 3-minute videos, on any topic. The app has amassed over 500 million monthly active users, the US being the most popular country where it has been downloaded over 80 million times. It was created to help people, bring entertainment, and bring people together. However, as time goes on, the inverse relationship between the number of hours spent on TikTok and the declining mental health of many has become exceedingly evident. The initial positives of TikTok are beginning to fade away while the negatives are simultaneously taking over. Looking at the world around us makes me wonder, did TikTok truly intend to advance our society, or has making money always been their priority?
The issues with TikTok begin in their data. In 2019, TikTok was fined a record $5,700,000 by the US Federal Trade Commission for flouting US law by collecting data on children under 13 without their parents’ permission. It is proven to be an unsafe platform for children to be using. On top of that, this app is highly addicting due to its algorithm. TikTok’s For You page is a curated feed of videos that they think the specific user will like based on past likes and searches. This ultimately makes users never want to click away from it. Even the algorithm that determines this, like curation algorithms on other platforms, is a closely guarded secret. This is even scarier knowing that the Department of Justice released a memo to important military personnel stating, “Be wary of applications you download, monitor your phones for unusual and unsolicited texts … and delete them immediately and uninstall TikTok to circumvent any exposure of personal information.” TikTok will ultimately do anything to keep you on their app, which proves it’s an unsafe app that should be banned.
Emma: No, TikTok should not be banned. This platform is a way for people ranging from adolescents to adults to express themselves, showcase their talents, and learn information about things they are passionate about. The constant flow of ideas between people teaches individuals more about themselves and introduces them to new ideas. People can now discover more about their interests and passions while surfing the internet by surrounding themselves with so many new ideas. There are plenty of different TikTok users: makeup artists, photographers, painters, singers, dancers, craft-creators, and so many more. These people could be running a small business, or feel unrecognized for their passions. As a result of TikTok, and it’s opportunity to give these deserving people spotlight, a large number of people are able to pursue their careers further on a more developed platform. There are also very informative people on the app about discussing current events, historical events, life-hacks, or school-related material. I personally have followed teachers on TikTok for my AP courses, in preparation for the AP Exam. I think that this aspect of TikTok could be helpful for students everywhere, and can be looked at as a free tutoring service in a way.
Furthermore, TikTok is a social media platform, meaning people all over the world can connect no matter how far away they are. Like all platforms, this is an opportunity for friends to stay in touch, or for people to make new relationships. Without the prevalent use of technology to remain in contact, people would lose touch and miss special milestones, among other things. The thing about TikTok that is set apart from the rest of social media platforms, however, is the algorithm of the app. People who may have only 50 followers and a total of 17 likes, have an equal chance of being featured on the “For You Page” and having their talent be displayed to the entire world. This is far different than Instagram because on this app celebrities are receiving a consistent amount of attention and praise, much more than an average user gets. This concept fluctuates with TikTok, helping people who are trying to get noticed.
On TikTok, people don’t only have the opportunity to chat with one another but create things they are passionate about with one another. You can duet singing videos, dance combinations, acting skits, and other incredible creations. Companies can benefit from the immense amount of TikTok users across the globe. Companies use commercials, ads, and other platforms –like creators online– to promote their products. This benefits their income and their popularity in numerous ways. Seeing creators’ opinions on the products, and being a “credible” and “trustworthy” source, influences a lot of people to invest in said products. TikTok can also help change the world. With many accounts active on the app, this is a great way to promote good causes to society. While scrolling through social media platforms, there are so many charitable organizations that people donate to on a daily basis. When on TikTok, there are people who speak about causes that may be personal to them or something they are passionate about. With this knowledge and newfound understanding of problems in our world, our society is more likely to give back.
It’s clear there are many benefits of TikTok that are needed in our society. Although there are aspects that are similar to Instagram or Facebook, TikTok is unique in many ways, allowing people to rise up from the average crowd and get the attention they deserve.