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We shouldn’t ignore the political potential of TikTok

There was before there was TikTok. There was Vine before that. What distinguishes TikTok from its short-lived predecessors is its user base, which has grown as invested in politics and education as they have in light-hearted entertainment, as well as the app's inherent political potency.

The app was initially released in 2017 by ByteDance, a Chinese firm. It now has a global presence that rivals that of its forerunners. TikTok has built a reputation for itself among other big social media platforms as the most downloaded app on the App Store with over 800 million active users.

The rise of politics on TikTok isn't new, but it's becoming more prominent as people spend more time online. Information is simpler to access than ever before thanks to the internet's interconnection, and TikTok users are taking advantage of it. Despite prohibiting political advertising and censoring certain political content in 2019, the app is now filled with politics.

During the most recent American election, I saw far too many election-related TikToks. Because TikTok suggests content based on your preferences, the majority of my views have been moderate to far left, with many advocating '#SettleforBiden.' For someone with opposing views, I'm sure it's a whole different story.

The availability of political content on the app allows information to be disseminated more widely and quickly. When George Floyd was slain by police and Black Lives Matter protests were at their peak, TikTok welcomed the social media fever. Users who observe protests and other political events can film and upload their footage, allowing them to present it to mainstream news networks unedited. As a result, the app has grown in popularity as a forum for advocacy.

The politics of TikTok, on the other hand, extends beyond the activities of individual users. TikTok has recently being investigated for containing spyware and perhaps transferring information to the Chinese government.

The fact that TikTok was found utilizing its software to harvest user data is a sobering reminder that TikTok might be a hazardous extension of the totalitarian regime. Tensions between numerous countries and China are at an all-time high. The United States and, more recently, India are two famous examples, both of which have suggested outright bans on the app.

The United States said that their planned ban was based on national security concerns, but it's difficult to overlook the reality that both countries are embroiled in trade and other international affairs issues. Not only that, but the US also intended to prohibit WeChat, a popular messaging program in China.

Trump eventually chose to try to bargain with ByteDance, but the conversations have so far been fruitless. Despite the fact that two courts have dismissed Trump's request for a ban on WeChat and TikTok, the administration has filed an appeal, though it appears doubtful that the court would sustain the restriction. Trump proposed selling TikTok to an American corporation as a compromise, but the creators declined, and the ultimate decision is still up in the air.

In India, TikTok was only one of several apps that were prohibited. Following a conflict on the Chinese-Indian border that resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian troops, the Indian government has blocked a number of Chinese applications. TikTok, WeChat, and other famous Chinese applications were among the apps on the list. Their justification is similar to Trump's in that it is based on user privacy, but the conflict assures that the ban is motivated by a nationalistic political objective.

From the little scale of its own users to the broader scale of government policy, TikTok has been highly involved in politics. TikTok is a diversified platform that is home to a range of political content, from far-right wingers on an app appealing to kids who are still too young to vote to K-pop enthusiasts holding an empty Trump rally. Individual users must decide whether or not this content leads to action.

Following a big election in the United States, TikTok's usage as a potent instrument in political education and journalism is more evident than ever. Because of the abundance of instructional content on TikTok, the planned prohibitions not only highlight TikTok's political strength, but also modern censorship, particularly for young people who may obtain news through the app.

TikTok is a powerful social media platform that many people are neglecting right now, but as TikTok members get older, society will no longer be able to ignore its political significance.


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