As if the China-developed app Tiktok isn’t already facing numerous accusations regarding their privacy policies, the United States Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice has apparently started conducting investigations to confirm if said mobile app has transgressed an agreement made between the app developers and U.S. authorities regarding the privacy of its users who are below 13 years old.
Following the recent news about Tiktok being banned in India, it would seem that the popular video-sharing app is at risk of being driven out of America as well. In 2019, Tiktok agreed to obliterate all data of its users who are minors, falling below the age of 13.
The Center for Digital Democracy, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a public advocacy group with a cause to prioritize children’s welfare, protecting them from being baits to satisfy corporate greed, made claims against Tiktok, saying that the app did not live up to their end of the deal.
Tiktok countered the allegations, saying it has modified app experience and access for users who fall in said age group, along with other safety measures. The app is certainly subject to a lot of suspicions, especially with American politicians for its alleged sharing of user data to third parties. Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, said that the government is “looking at” a possible nationwide ban on the app given the right grounds. Pompeo even made a remark, stating that Tiktok gives user information to Chinese communist parties.
TikTok's team, as usual, denied such allegations. Nonetheless, the United States government continues its investigations, placing Tiktok on a national security review. The app has been examined by tech.
TikTok’s content sharing system allows users to have free reign over what they choose to share on the platform, regardless of context. The only censoring that the app developers conduct is the screening of what content is displayed on the feed of specific user demographics and as requested by specific countries. China is one country that does not have any censorship requests for Tiktok, meaning that all content freely flows there. 2019 user stats show that majority of users are from India. The US comes second. But now that the app has been banned in India, US takes the top spot with about 30 million active users.
With the rift between the US and China, the American government is wary about this. They justified their decision on having Tiktok under review to address their concern about the large number of information that the app possesses that is visible to and accessible by foreign countries and that fact poses “a serious risk to millions of Americans.”