The United States Commerce Department has announced that TikTok will be removed from US app stores from midnight on Sunday (09/20), on President Trump’s order. The reasoning behind the order concerns data collection on the app and national security… but we’re not really buying it.
Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, explained, “At the president’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of US laws and regulations.”
Professor Evan Medeiros notes that the Republican administration has “never articulated the national security rationale for banning TikTok.” That leads to the question: If they never articulated it, is data security actually the reason? Could it — and we’re just speculating here — have anything to do with its predominantly young demographic? Or anything to do with the wealth of social activism content on the platform? Or the fact the ban lands six weeks before the election? Or with Trump’s ego? After all, it was only three months ago that TikTok users were at least partly responsible for sabotaging his Tulsa rally.
ICYMI: TikTok users, aided by K-pop stans, claim they registered hundreds of thousands of tickets for Trump’s campaign rally as a prank. After POTUS urged followers to register for free tickets, the teens began sharing the information amongst themselves, organizing their followers to register for the rally, and then not show up, leaving the rally empty.
However, the news making headlines at the moment could be a little sensational. Ross said that the “only real change as of Sunday night” will be that TikTik users “won’t have access to improved apps, updated apps, upgraded apps, or maintenance. The basic TikTok will stay intact until Nov. 12. If there’s not a deal by Nov. 12 under the provisions of the old order, then TikTok would also be, for all practical purposes, shut down.”