Is TikTok’s time up?

The clock is ticking for TikTok, as the popular video app with more than 170 million users worldwide is at risk of a nationwide ban.

The bill for a ban successfully passed through the U.S. House March 13 with a vote of 352-65. If the bill receives the OK from the Senate in the coming months, it will be time to part ways with TikTok trends.

Talk of a ban has been swirling since its launch in 2016 due to its ownership under Chinese Technology firm ByteDance Ltd. The app is discouraged by some lawmakers, who consider the creativity-driven and vocal platform a national security threat. 

Overseen by the Chinese Government, lawmakers worry about a potential data leak upon demand, handing over open access to private information of U.S. users. 

On the other hand, the app has become a backbone for younger generations within its eight years. It’s a space to share music, dancing and artistic skills; a platform for telling stories, expressing opinions, promoting small businesses, the list goes on.

“Hearing about the ban actually making it as far as it has, is humorous. It’s funny because it’s just kind of unbelievable that this would be the first app that they’re banning out of any other apps,” said Minnesota State senior Skylar Jeppesen. 

Jeppesen, a Psychology major, has used TikTok since it was formerly known as “Musical.ly” from 2014-2016. She continues to view and post videos herself, primarily relatable and comedic content. 

“I feel like it would be very difficult considering with COVID, it made everyone kind of awkward and not be able to socially interact, and I feel like a lot of people met people through social media apps like TikTok, especially,” Jeppesen said. 

During the COVID’s peak, TikTok became an outlet for millions of users. With no place to explore and socialize in the outside world, many spent their quarantine inside the app’s screen. Music gained traction from dancing trends; users publicized their thoughts and emotions during their first global pandemic — a new, frightening era for young generations. 

TikTok was a popular space to speak freely in the form of short-term content, but along with its position on the charts, it also quickly became a leading app in users’ screen time.

“The TikTok ban is fine, it’ll get people to stop scrolling for a positive,” said MSU student Chase Walters. 

TikTok videos can range anywhere from 3 seconds to 10 minutes. For students working toward degrees, this form of content is becoming problematic in terms of procrastination and even addiction. 

A study completed by Psychologists published by Frontiers in Psychology concluded short-form video addiction to not only directly impact academic procrastination, but also indirectly cause academic procrastination through attention control. 

In TikTok’s defense, the app contains an optional timer to restrict use to one hour.

“I use TikTok to look up workouts, try new foods and learn new things,” said MSU sophomore Amaiya Kauphusman (no relation to the author). “You can definitely choose how you want to use the app, and you can put restrictions of how long you want to use it in a day.”

Kauphusman is majoring in Communications and Media and minoring in marketing. On top of the weight of social media under her degree, she produces content of her own geared toward fashion and beauty. 

“People use TikTok as a job. People get paid to make TikToks,” Kauphusman said. “This could affect me because I would post TikToks in the future for my job most likely. It’s what I love to do, and how I get my message out on brands that I work with.” 

TikTok has become a necessary platform for marketing, especially giving small businesses an opportunity to grow largely and quickly. Businesses can purchase ads, create sponsorships, participate in trends and gain leverage faster than alternative platforms in the industry. 

“TikTok was a great place to make money or boost your business, and with the ban, that puts a lot of people out of a career they built,” Walters said, who is currently seeking a degree in business. 

Alternatively, TikTok’s end would likely not put an end to the world of short-form content. The app has inspired this design for competitors like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. 

“I don’t think the ban will impact much,” Walters said. “Just like most things they come and go, and something new will come around. Every app has reels on them now anyways; the damage is kind of already done.” 

TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew is not ready for a replacement just yet, as he released a statement to users in hopes of the app’s liberation in the U.S. 

“We will not stop fighting and advocating for you,” Chew said. “We will continue to do all we can, including exercising our legal rights, to protect this amazing platform that we have built with you.”

Write to Mercedes Kauphusman at mercedes.kauphusman@mnsu.edu

Header Photo: Pictured are a few Mavericks on their phones, potentially scrolling through the popular video app TikTok. As of March 13, TikTok is at risk of a nationwide ban. (Alexis Darkow/The Reporter)

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