TIA CARR WRITES — Just last week, the popular app TikTok was flooded with frantic posts from prominent figures saying goodbye to their beloved online forum and urging followers to keep up with them on other online platforms. This came in response to President Trump’s executive order, demanding that Apple and Google remove the app from their respective stores, inhibiting any future downloads. The ban was set to go into effect Sunday, September 20th at 11:59 pm- the first step in the Trump administration’s plan to begin cleaning house by eliminating Chinese-owned apps. Now that the deadline has passed, and the scrolling hasn’t stopped, people are left wondering what happened.
ByteDance, the privately-owned Chinese company that runs TikTok, filed an injunction against the Trump Administration and its claims that the app was posing a threat to national security. The administration had raised concerns that TikTok was funneling users’ data to the Chinese Communist Party, potentially putting users at a variety of risks. US District Judge Carl Nichols issued a temporary block to Trump’s executive order and additional legal counsel raised the issue of ByteDance not receiving due process rights.
In the meantime, ByteDance was struggling to put together a deal with American corporations to acquire partial ownership, and so allow TikTok to continue operating in the US. Trump called for a complete change in ownership, but ByteDance changed its approach entirely: it created a new corporation, TikTok Global, which sold 20% of its stock to American based companies Oracle and Walmart. This way, US operations would be based on American soil and board members would likewise be American. A mere few hours before the ban was set to go into effect, President Trump announced that the app would remain in the US market.
The banning of TikTok would not just be a loss of free comedy and teen dance videos, but the quelling of an entire online community. TikTok is full of educational and political content, giving people a chance to voice opinions and experiences. Maybe the ban is not so much about national security but, instead, marks a final desperate attempt to silence public dissent before November.