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TikTok: Entertainment or Villain?

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

TikTok is a social media app where users can create and share short and fun videos. It has become extremely popular, particularly among younger audiences, but has raised concerns in some governments around the world regarding cybersecurity, privacy and political influence.

In the United States, for example, it was the subject of investigations that began to remove the application from its mobile devices, as well as in countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, India, and Europe.

This is because of the possibility of personal data of American users being collected and shared with the Chinese government as a possible instrument of espionage, since ByteDance, headquarters of the company that controls TikTok, has China as its location.

The US government at the time Donald Trump was president tried to ban the app in the country, but court decisions prevented the measure from being implemented. However, in 2020, TikTok was accused of promoting Trump's re-election campaign, through paid hashtags. The app was also criticized for allowing the broadcast of fake news about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Below is a short summary of privacy-related issues:

  • Excessive Data Collection: TikTok collects a large amount of personal data from users, including information about the device used, IP address, browsing history, search history and location data. This data is used to customize the user experience and is also shared with third parties for advertising purposes.

  • Data sharing with China: TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a company based in China. This raised concerns about the possibility of data being shared with the Chinese government. TikTok claims that US users' data is stored in the United States and is not shared with China, but there are still concerns about the security of users' data.

  • Use of underage data: TikTok is popular with teenagers and children. However, there are concerns that TikTok's data collection may violate the US Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). COPPA prohibits the collection of data from children under the age of 13 without parental consent.

In addition to these problems related to data privacy and possible espionage, across the TikTok platform there are challenges among young people and adults that have serious consequences for those who practice them, and that raise concerns for governments around the world.

Some of them are:

  • Dangerous Challenges: An example is the challenge called the “Benadryl Challenge”, which consists of ingesting large amounts of pills of this medicine, an antihistamine that can be fatal in high doses.

  • Violent and disturbing content: Dissemination of this type of content that includes scenes of torture and abuse has been one of the reasons for criticism for being allowed on the platform.

  • Drug and alcohol use: Several TikTok users have been sharing videos of themselves using illegal substances, which in many countries is prohibited.

  • Misuse of medication: As mentioned above, on TikTok it is possible to see videos of people consuming medication inappropriately, even with a medical prescription. This is a serious consequence and can lead to death.

  • Dangerous driving practices: The app shares videos of drivers acting recklessly in traffic, such as risky maneuvers and high-speed driving.

The challenges mentioned above are just a few examples of the most dangerous ones that circulate on TikTok, and that have caused fear in most governments and people around the world. Parents and guardians of young people who use the platform must be aware of the existing dangers and monitor their children's use of social networks. Apps need to take responsibility for removing any and all harmful content, as well as educating users about the risks associated with challenges.

In summary, although TikTok is a popular and fun platform, it is important that governments and companies responsible for social media platforms guarantee the privacy and security of the data of those who use them and measures are put in place to combat misinformation and polarization online.

Attention: The purpose of this news is to inform readers with information already available on the Internet. We do not have any political opinion or position against or in favor of the company mentioned in this post.

Do you use TikTok? Leave in the comments what you think about this!


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