It’s time to ban TikTok from all UK phones before it does even more damage
No one has officially stated this, but it definitely seems like a war against TikTok is brewing right now.
Governments around the world, including our own, are banning their employees from installing the app on their work phones, and the BBC has also taken action against it amid growing concerns about the Chinese government’s influence on the company that owns TikTok. ByteDance from Beijing.
The UK government said they took this step because they were “concerned about how (user) data might be used”.
I agree – and in fact I think we should go even further and ban TikTok on all devices in the UK.
Not only do I think the risk of potential Chinese government access to our data is too high, but I genuinely worry about the content that is provided to young children on the app.
I have nothing against the people of China, but everything against the autocratic government that runs the country.
The People’s Republic has proved itself time and again unreliable through its actions, both in its treatment of its own citizens, such as the Uyghur Muslim minority, and in its increasingly aggressive foreign policy.
While ByteDance insists it exists regardless of the regime in Beijing, it’s hard to ignore a number of incidents involving user data and how it could potentially be shared.
A TikTok whistleblower who claims US Senator Josh Hawley oversees banning ByteDance employees from accessing data in the US is weaker than thought.
The source went on to describe U.S. data access control as “perfunctory at best, where it exists at all.”
Despite denying the whistleblower’s claims, ByteDance admitted last year that some of their employees had improperly accessed data from TikTok to track journalists in an attempt to determine the source of the media leak.
ByteDance said several employees gained access to the data of at least two journalists as part of an internal investigation into a media leak about the company.
All of them had previously reported on the content of the company’s leaked materials, and employees obtained the journalists’ IP addresses to determine if they were in the same location as ByteDance colleagues suspected of being whistleblowers.
Those who improperly accessed the data were fired, but I can’t help but suspect that TikTok was just mad at being caught.
When someone is exposed for breaking the rules, it rarely happens on the first try. While we now know that ByteDance gained access to user data they shouldn’t have, we don’t know if these were isolated incidents, and we still don’t know to what extent the Chinese government influences these decisions.
Clearly, the US, European Commission, India, Canada, New Zealand, and Belgium recognize the threat, as they have all banned TikTok from official devices.
Aside from all the national security implications and geopolitical considerations, one of the main reasons I want to ban TikTok is much simpler.
To be honest, I think it’s bad for our health.
Sociologist Dr. Julie Albright noted in 2020 that “when you scroll…sometimes you see a photo or something amazing and it grabs your attention” and even compared the addictive nature of the algorithms in TikTok and other social networks to the slot machines in Las. Vegas.
This was a problem flagged by the company itself, which even hired influencers to encourage users to take breaks from scrolling.
Aside from the impact on our mental health and how we maintain our focus, I’m becoming more and more concerned about the dangerous virus issues that seem to be happening on the app.
Have you heard of the “penny challenge”? This is when you put a coin between a wall outlet and a plug to try and get a visible spark, and it has drawn a furious backlash from a senior US firefighter who has blamed the trick on a number of fires.
Or how about the “skull-breaking problem,” which involves knocking people on their feet on purpose and has reportedly caused serious injuries.
The Blackout Challenge is another dangerous trend that peaked in popularity last year. Participants hold their breath until they pass out due to lack of oxygen, leading to several reports of death.
It is estimated that up to 60% of TikTokers are from Generation Z, born around 1997 to 2012.
While this includes some people who are now in their 20s, it also includes children who are still only 13 years old.
I hate to sound like a pearl diver, but would anyone think of kids?!
Therefore, I hope that the app will be banned as soon as possible, not only because of the impact of the app on users’ health, but also because the Chinese government cannot take their word for it.
Not only can we not risk the safety of children, we cannot risk our personal data being in the hands of what I would describe as one of the most authoritarian governments in the world.
Ironically, the only way to protect yourself from these dangers is to limit your freedom of choice.
It’s time to disable TikTok. And so on.
Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact us at Ross.Mccafferty@metro.co.uk.
Share your opinion in the comments below.
MORE: US Investigates TikTok Owner Over Possible Spying On Journalists
MORE: Which countries have banned TikTok as New Zealand bans it from public phones?
MORE: US government threatens to ban TikTok unless it is sold by a Chinese owner