Endless Government Ban: Can TikTok Secure Its Future?

Yusuf Balogun
Yusuf Balogun
Yusuf is a law graduate and freelance journalist with a keen interest in tech reporting.

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With over two billion users around the world, TikTok has been a controversial social media platform since its launch in 2016. The app is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese internet company based in Beijing. The social media network has received harsh criticism from governments throughout the world in recent years, which has resulted in its suspension and banning in several countries. 

Privacy concerns, data theft, and the propagation of false information are some of the most frequently claimed justifications for the ban. Although the app has been extremely popular among young users, its unfavourable impacts have prompted debate over the platform’s viability and whether the risk is worthwhile. This has raised questions about the future of the app and its place in the global social media landscape.

Why is TikTok Banned?

Data privacy is one of the main issues with TikTok. The app collects vast amounts of personal data from its users, including location, device type, IP address, and browsing history. The Chinese government owns TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, and there are concerns that the Chinese government can access this data. Because of this, the app has been banned in many nations due to concerns over the possibility of data theft and spying.

The possibility for TikTok to transmit false information is another justification for the app’s ban. It has been claimed that TikTok hosts false information, propaganda, and conspiracies, all of which hurt society. Several governments fear that the app may be used as a tool for propaganda and disinformation, causing political turbulence and social unrest. So, to stop the dissemination of incorrect information, some nations have banned TikTok.

TikTok has been criticized for its content control practices in addition to privacy and disinformation issues. The app has drawn criticism for hosting offensive content, including violent and sexual material. Although the firm asserts to have tight criteria to control content, users and governments are outraged by the absence of effective enforcement. So, to shield their population from hazardous content, many nations have banned TikTok.

How Many Countries Have Banned Tiktok?

ByteDance lost one of its main markets when India banned the platform in the middle of 2020 after cracking down on 59 Chinese-owned applications for allegedly sending user data covertly to servers outside of India. The Chinese apps, according to the government, were harmful to India’s sovereignty, integrity, defence, security, and sense of order. To safeguard its 1.3 billion residents’ data and privacy, it decided to forbid the apps.

Taiwan, a neighbour of China, has similarly prohibited the social media app from being used on official devices since December of last year. In the meantime, the social media app has been temporarily blocked in Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Pakistan for all users due to the dissemination of content that officials deemed objectionable.

On 6 March, Denmark announced it was banning the use of TikTok on government devices, saying its cyber security experts had found there was a risk of espionage. The country’s defence ministry said staff are required to uninstall TikTok on service phones and other official devices as soon as possible if they have previously installed it.

Belgium earlier this month imposed a minimum six-month ban on TikTok on devices used by the government. According to the country’s prime minister, Alexander De Croo, influence and monitoring between governments have transferred to the digital sphere in a new geopolitical environment.

Legislators in the US, Europe, and Canada have intensified their efforts to limit access to TikTok in recent months. On February 27, the White House informed federal agencies that they had 30 days to remove the software from government-owned smartphones. Recently, the app was also prohibited from being used on official devices by the parliaments of New Zealand, Canada, the European Union’s executive body, and Britain.

Recently, a US House committee supported a move that was even more extreme, voting to approve legislation that would enable President Biden to outlaw TikTok countrywide across all devices. Moreover, TikTok use on their wireless campus networks has been outlawed by several American universities.

What is TikTok’s Take on the Ban?

On its part, the social media platform has questioned the restrictions, claiming that it hasn’t been given the chance to respond to inquiries and that governments are isolating themselves from a platform that is cherished by millions of people. TikTok’s spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter, in a statement, has referred to the bans as political theatre and criticized lawmakers for attempting to censor Americans.

“The ban of TikTok on federal devices passed in December without any deliberation, and unfortunately that approach has served as a blueprint for other world governments. These bans are little more than political theatre.”

Meanwhile, a representative of the Chinese embassy in Britain charged that ministers made decisions based on politics rather than actual information. The Chinese embassy urged London to desist from overstretching and misusing the idea of national security and claimed that the targeted ban would erode the confidence of the international community in the UK’s business environment.

How TikTok Can Secure its Future

With most countries continuing to ban TikTok, it begs the question of the potential future of the app and possible solutions. TikTok could establish independent entities with local ownership and administration in each nation it operates in as a potential response to the prohibition. Ensuring that user data stays under each nation’s control, would allay worries about data privacy and national security. It would also give TikTok a foundation for abiding by regional rules and regulations.

Another solution would be for TikTok to partner with a trusted third-party company to manage user data. Protecting user data from illegal access would offer an extra degree of security and responsibility. Also, a collaboration with a third-party business could aid TikTok in building credibility and confidence with authorities and regulators.

Also, TikTok might enforce more stringent data privacy regulations and allow consumers more control over their data. This can entail offering users more control over the data that is gathered and shared, increasing openness regarding data usage, and enabling users to remove their data at any time. By doing this, TikTok may show that it is committed to safeguarding user data and resolving data privacy issues.

TikTok should also strengthen its content moderation policies, which is an essential next step. The platform has come under fire for encouraging offensive material, including hate speech, false information, and sexual content. To remedy this, TikTok must create more efficient methods to find and delete this type of content from its platform. Using machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance content moderation skills is one approach to achieve this. TikTok can instantly delete bad content from its platform by teaching AI systems to recognize it.

And lastly, TikTok may use its enormous user base to influence society for the better. The platform can support the promotion of educational content on subjects including social justice, climate change, and mental health. TikTok can show that it is more than simply a platform for amusement and that it can be a force for good in society by encouraging positive and educational content.

Final Thought

All in all, TikTok’s future hinges on its capacity to allay the worries of legislative and regulatory organizations. TikTok may show its dedication to ethical conduct by enhancing its data protection policies, content moderation procedures, and engagement with stakeholders. Additionally, TikTok can establish itself as a force for good in society by using its sizable user base to promote change.

Despite repeated prohibitions from various nations, TikTok has demonstrated incredible resiliency and growth. Therefore it must enhance its data privacy regulations, content moderation procedures, and stakeholder engagement if it is to allay the worries of governments and regulatory authorities. TikTok will prosper and play a significant part in the changing social media ecosystem if it can properly handle these issues.

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