Trump foreign policy threatens TikTok

Will Rubin ’22

If the Chinese government wants to spy on my TikTok account, I don’t really care. The only conclusion they are going to get out of it is that teenage American boys will laugh at anything remotely stupid. Half of my liked videos are just some random people doing silly things.

     Apparently, the Trump administration does not feel the same way. Donald Trump has been trying to ban TikTok since June.

     Before their first aggressions, though, the administration had been aware of the threats TikTok posed to Americans. Parent company ByteDance was fined for illegally collecting the information of kids under the age of 13 back in February of 2019. In addition, the U.S. had accused TikTok of sending American user information it had previously claimed were stored in the U.S. to its Chinese servers.

     The security and counterintelligence threats that Tik Tok pose don’t seem to be the only things on Trump’s mind though. There seems to be more of an economic standpoint many people fail to see. As the fastest growing social media app right now, Tik Tok has the potential to dominate the market. Trump wants to make sure that these social media giants are run from within the United States. TikTok has even revealed that it plans to add 10,000 more jobs if it makes its way into America.

     Recently, Trump’s threats seem to be working. A few weeks ago, Oracle and Walmart took a majority stake in the company, promising to overlook the source code and algorithm of the app before sending it to users. Many are still worried that information could be processed back in China. 

     One could say that this goes against my original argument. TikTok will now pay American taxes, it will add new jobs, America will dominate the company, and many more of these great things. Yet Trump won’t settle for good. He wants great. He wants all of TikTok in the US. He won’t rest until the 36% of Tik Tok that is Chinese owned falls into the hands of Americans. 

It all comes down to the trade war between China and the United States.

     The accusations that TikTok is a counterintelligence threat have never been fully proven. It all comes down to the trade war between China and the United States. Trump’s background as a businessman is really shining in this moment as he tries to leverage the American obsession of curated fifteen-second videos. Striving to maintain American dominance over the social media market, Trump seems to be bringing out every weapon he has. Teenagers and adults rely on TikTok for their daily stream of entertainment, and it would be a shame if Trump used it as a pawn in his chess game against China.