How The US TikTok Ban Will Impact Arabs And Other Minorities
By Emily Tain/Arab America Contributing Writer TikTok, the hottest social media app in almost every country has come under fire recently due to data mining concerns. Made in China, the app is home to 800 million active users and has been downloaded “over 2 billion times” since its creation. Several countries have already banned the app, most notably India. Unfortunately for some, the US might be next on the list; President Trump has announced that Congress is looking into banning the app from US app stores. About 1/10th of active users are from the US, meaning that the app would take a big hit with the loss of a US audience.
For You Page
Impact on Marginalized Communities
This is especially important for minority users, like BIPOC and the LGBT+ community. The For You Page has allowed them to find a community on the app as well as people who are interested in learning more. For example, May 19th, 2020 was a “blackout” in which non-black creators were encouraged to refrain from posting so that black voices could be heard. This filled For You Pages with content from black creators users might not have seen otherwise.
A Tool for Organization
It is for these reasons that a US ban on TikTok would be so detrimental for its users. Composed of mostly Gen Z and Millennials, the app has allowed millions of people to organize and spread information at an incredibly quick pace. BIPOC and LGBT+ users are even more affected, as the For You Page has given them a platform that other apps will not. Creators are able to form communities around their identities whilst educating those that wish to know more.
The main argument that users bring forward is that of US hypocrisy. Congress’ reasoning for banning the app is because the app collects users’ data. While apps like Facebook and Instagram do this on a daily basis, TikTok is different because of Chinese influence. Creators argue that data mining occurs regardless, so why does it matter if it is China or Mark Zuckerberg that has it?
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, courtesy of CNBC Recently, tech powerhouse Microsoft has come forward with their plan to purchase TikTok’s operations in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Microsoft claims that they will transfer US TikTok users’ data back to the US and keep it there. This acquisition would secure Microsoft’s position as a top competitor against Google, Sony, and Nintendo, as well as assuage the fears of American users.
Is There a Solution?
The debate is likely to continue until either Congress makes a decision regarding the app or Microsoft completes the deal. With the threat of deletion looming in the air, creators are encouraging their followers to find them on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube so that they can continue creating content should TikTok no longer be an option. Rivaling apps like Thriller are also seeing a spike in downloads as users desperately try to find a fitting alternative.
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