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The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

Removal of TikTok displays incompetence

The Government shows they don’t care with the proposal of H.R.7521
Graphic by Miles Johnson

As of right now, the House has passed H.R.7521 which is a proposal that would remove Americans’ obtaining ownership of the mobile app TikTok on one’s phone. The bill still has yet to pass the Senate and be put to be signed into law by President Biden, but this bill is hypocritical and has widespread implications.

This bill, if signed into law, will do many things. Even though the bill is put into place to impact TikTok, it will have the power to remove any other social media that is deemed by the President or the Supreme Court to be a foreign adversary. This removal, however, is not a removal of TikTok entirely. Current users of TikTok will still be able to use the app, it will just be removed from app stores and become unavailable for download. Alongside this, the law will take 90 days to be enforced after being signed into law. When it does become enforced, companies and other groups related to the company will be subject to fines that can become very expensive quickly.

This bill worries me — not because it removes TikTok, but because it sets a precedent. It brings forward the idea that the United States government will be able to restrict Americans’ access to parts of the internet, specifically foreign countries. The Internet in many spaces, for most of its existence, has been global with very little government interference. There have been a couple of times in the past where the government has stepped in, but not as far as H.R.7521. This bill is unique due to the fact that it will be opening a dam to remove access to stuff across the board. If this can happen to TikTok, why shouldn’t it happen to Instagram and such?

The main reason why this bill is being considered to be banned by law is because TikTok answers to China and, according to much of the House, is likely giving users’ data to China for an advantage against America. Which is hypocritical, seeing as America is known to move its own hands into taking data and changing entire governments with no regard for those people; and because of the whistleblower Edward Snowden, it is known that the United States government also performs spying within American borders. America is known to do this excessively, but these actions are ignored when done by America — creating a double standard.

Alongside this, not all the data that China obtains about America is from TikTok. Instagram and other various social media tools are known to sell users’ data. Instagram in 2021 collected and sold 79% of their users’ data to third parties. TikTok isn’t the only source for this data and China is obtaining it through other sources, so will those be banned as well? The data is being sold or given away anyways — why does it matter if the company giving the data is from China?

Alongside this, at what point does the protection of data impede on our First Amendment rights? TikTok has been a tool for a widespread community and activism for people. The removal of TikTok would remove the voice of people that exist on the platform. It removes a tool that allows so many people to organize and become a collective where they might not be able to otherwise. TikTok allows marginalized groups to collectivize and see that they are not alone. However, the same things that are good can also cause harm. TikTok encourages extremism by creating an echo chamber using algorithms, because that echo chamber is how users stay on the platform and how TikTok makes money. This is why Nazism and other harmful beliefs have been cropping up en masse. Alongside TikTok promoting this, there have been problems with “challenges” in which people have been harmed or killed. These challenges are reckless at best and in some cases have people inhaling aerosols.

TikTok is like a pocket knife. While it brings good and can open a package, at the same time, it harms, glistening with red crimson. Because of this, I believe it should be treated like any tool: with care. However, I believe throwing TikTok away entirely does nobody any good. The good TikTok can do in bringing people together outweighs the negatives it does bring. It allows people to show their living conditions, helping garner support for those who need it.

Instead of acting mature and trying to find a solution, this bill removes a symptom while ignoring the problem entirely. China is a sophisticated nation and has ways of getting the information it wants with or without TikTok. This bill allows the House to feel good because they removed access to something that comes from “big scary China,” but at the same time, the risk of Americans’ First Amendment rights and connection to the global world being threatened should not be forgotten.

Now, if H.R.7521 were to be signed into law by President Biden, TikTok could do something to ensure it isn’t liquidated in the United States. When signed into law, TikTok will have 90 days to trade ownership to another person or firm in the United States. However, that most likely will not occur as TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, have held firm thus far.

Ultimately, I’m just disappointed by our government once again. Even though this bill is being proposed in the frame of protecting the American citizen, it is clear to me that is not the case. If that was the case, this would be hitting so many other social media sites such as Snapchat. This is just like what happened with Edward Snowden in 2013 where the government showed that they don’t care about Americans’ privacy and instead protect their own interests.

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About the Contributor
Serena Bovee, Copy Editor
Greetings all, my name is Serena and this will be my third year working on this publication. I am one of the condemned copy editors working on the Echo this year. In my free time, I partake in listening to some of my revered music. From the works of the late Dimitri Shostakovich all the way to the new and looming artist Chris Christodoulou. When I’m not doing that I am probably sifting through the petrichor while promenading through Saint Louis Park.

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