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The Talon

The Talon

Imminent TikTok ban?

Ava Tomlinson
Senior Hunter Boswell deletes the app Tik Tok due to the recent news about the controversial, yet potential, Tik Tok ban in the U.S.

Within six months, every American could lose access to the overwhelmingly popular app, TikTok. On March 13, 2024, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, now going on to the Senate, stating that if TikTok’s Chinese-based owner ByteDance does not sell the app to a company the U.S. government is satisfied with, the app will be banned for every American. This number amounts to over 100 million active users. This bill has been passed due to speculation among lawmakers and the U.S. government that TikTok is a national security threat to American user data. 

The possibility of TikTok being banned is an issue that affects the youth of America far more than any other demographic, as the ages 10-19 alone make up one-fourth of all TikTok users. Although, the severity of which it would affect people’s lives is reportedly very different for every person. This ban could result in far less screen time for American citizens, as each user spends an average of two hours of their day on TikTok, reports Business Insider. Carrie Wempen, Ankeny High School’s career and technical education teacher(CTE), has experienced this usage firsthand in the classroom. 

“It can be a distraction from our lives and a waste of time because we miss out on a lot of social engagements,” Wempen said. “When I give my class work time or something at the end of class, all they do is sit on their phones and they don’t engage with their peers, versus when I was in high school we kept our phones away and we could sit and talk friends. It’s a big difference.”

TikTok’s alarmingly large screen time could be due to many factors. One of the most notable is the specially procured algorithm designed by ByteDance, which is the main reason they are under investigation. Another reason TikTok is so consistently used is the fact that it is not only used to watch videos and to get entertainment but also because it is a competing search engine. The search bar use of TikTok is competing with Google, the largest search engine on the planet, and is commonly used among users for many purposes, ranging from cooking tutorials to a simple fact checker.

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“Honestly, I would say it’s a positive because there are a lot of things to learn. There’s probably more things to learn on it than there is to just kind of screw around it,” Wempen said. “There’s a lot of DIY (do it yourself) stuff. There is even a lot of cooking stuff and car repair stuff, which becomes beneficial in the future when you become an adult.”

In addition to the search engine and search bar, TikTok has become a successful shopping website, hosting an array of items on their TikTok shop. TikTok fuels over seven million businesses and has accrued over 20 billion dollars in gross domestic profit(GDP), along with providing over 200,000 jobs, reports TikTok newsroom. This development has raised concern from the TikTok community about how the potential ban could impact these businesses. 

“I don’t think it would be fair to those businesses because a lot of the time their target market is those online customers. I mean, if you look at our world today, we’re so used to Amazon and sitting on our couches to buy things at home,” Wempen said. “They don’t even have storefronts, and they rely on their internet customers.” 

Apart from affecting screen time and businesses, the main group affected would be the users themselves.

“I would be a little sad if it got banned,” AHS sophomore Claire Doyle said. “I mean I use it every day, but honestly I would just find another app to fill that void like Instagram.” 

Switching more attention to another app, especially one as popular as Instagram, which is very close in popularity to TikTok although slightly under it, is likely what would happen to many TikTok users. Instagram offers a similar experience to TikTok, with a for-you page, shopping, and search bar. There are still differences between the two apps.

“I know how addictive TikTok can be, and I don’t actually have it because of that,” AHS sophomore Andrew Gaskill said. “It wouldn’t really matter, I would probably just use Instagram Reels.” 

Opinions from both sides of this debate are being voiced. Some TikTok users reportedly say this ban is a security precaution that must be taken, and others say it is wrong and unfair for both TikTok and its American users.

TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew responded to the American government and voiced his opinion about the U.S. lawmaker’s ultimatum stating, “We aren’t going anywhere.”

Chew assured the government that TikTok would be fighting the ban in court, which could end up prolonging the process for months or even years to come. 

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About the Contributors
Julius Wiegand
Julius Wiegand, Staff Reporter
Julius Wiegand is a junior at Ankeny High School. He runs in cross country, track, and is a member of Ankeny Singers, and Ankeny's varisty show choir, Visual Adrenaline. He plans to attend a four year university after high school. Julius enjoys playing guitar, lifting weights, listening to music, and spending time with friends and family.
Ava Tomlinson
Ava Tomlinson, Web/Print/Multimedia Editor
Ava Tomlinson is a senior at Ankeny High School. She works as the co-web/print editor and also specializes in social media for The Talon. Ava plays softball, club volleyball, and throws in track and field. She is a part of the National Honors Society, Spanish Honors Society, and Key Club. In the future, Ava plans on continuing her education with a major in journalism. A fun fact about Ava is that she has visited all 50 states.
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