The Real Problems with TikTok
What is TikTok? It was made in September 2016 by Zhang Yiming in China, and has since reached billions around the world. But TikTok comes with some problems, namely social media induced illness and privacy concerns.
Social Media Illness
Lots of people may think that TikTok is great and harmless, but it can actually ruin lives. However, social media illness is relatively uncommon, so isn’t heard of very often. Awareness of the illness started with Evie Meg Field - a very popular influencer on TikTok with 14 million followers. From Singapore to the UK to the Pacific Islands, psychiatrists started reporting incidents of many teenagers shouting ‘’BEANS!’’ Some researchers in England called these girls ‘Evies’ due to the resemblance of their behaviours with Evie Meg Field; in one her most popular videos, she shouts beans uncontrollably and at random moments of the day.
Today, psychiatrists have a name for being affected by this - “social media induced illness.’’
Many will have already heard about TikTok’s privacy concern. There’s a theory that TikTok has access to your information and can view your browsing history, but is this true? Nearly half of all people on TikTok are aged between 16 and 24, with some being even younger. In 2019, the US Federal Trade Commission fined ByteDance (the owner of TikTok) $5.7 million for collecting information from under 13s, an act in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. This triggered a similar investigation in the UK, and now TikTok now has a kids-only mode where profiles of children under 16 are private by default.
China also holds a complicated history on handling of private data, and people have drawn connections between ByteDance and the Chinese government. In 2020, TikTok was banned by the Indian government, and former US president Donald Trump also moved to outlaw the app (this decision was later reversed by President Biden). TikTok denies the Chinese government can access people’s data but, like Facebook and Instagram, TikTok’s money is made through advertising. In order for the algorithms that fuel this to work, large data collections are required. So, we must ask: what does TikTok know about you, what tracking can it do, and how can this be stopped?
All this information ought to convince you that TikTok has some serious problems that need to be fixed before you should use it. It would be great if we could use a fun app without worrying about people seeing or using our information, or any other bad influences it could have on our lives.