TikTok forced buyout a bad precedent for the internet

In just a few years, TikTok has risen to become one of the largest social media platforms, with over 800 million users around the world. The rise, however, has not been smooth and the platform, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance has been accused of not protecting their users’ data, secretly gathering and sending it to China, supporting the Chinese regime and spying its users to gain valuable data.

These persistent accusations have been a problem for this company, as it tries to grow. Governments and other tech companies have not shied away in accusing the company of mishandling user data and hence failing to keep the safety of their users.

Tiktok banning in the US

Fast forward to January when the US and China were already in a heated trade war as the Trump administration accused China of playing the US and getting away for so long with taking advantage of the US economy, the application began to make headlines. The US government started viewing the application as a security threat as it tried to protect its citizen. This would continue for months, even after the coronavirus pandemic hit the US worse than any other country.

Then in July, the Trump administration had gone from threatening the company to declaring that it would close all its operations in the country. The announcement by the Trump administration was so random, yet not surprising why the decision had to be made. President Trump announced that the company would be given 90 days to either sell the company to a US company or leave the country.

Tiktok usage in the US

Currently, the TikTok usage in the US is over 100 million, and the ban in the country would mean that the company will be losing a significant number of its clients and revenue. The choices and conditions the company was given, though difficult, required evaluation, and the company in recent times has shown the willingness of listening to potential buyers, with Microsoft becoming the clear favorite in the first phases of negotiations.

However, the suggestion of banning the application by the highest office in the land may end up setting a bad precedent. Experts have argued that banning the application in the country is infringing on the first amendment in the country, which allows every citizen to practice free speech.

Free speech worries

If the ban is approved and the administration gets its way in banning the application, going forward, it will mean that the ruling party can also have the power to ban other applications in the country. This is what has led to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg worried about what this banning means for the future of his company.

In a meeting with employees, Zuckerberg raised concern about banning the application, stating that it would set bad precedence going into the future. The fear by the Facebook CEO is not ill-informed at all, and all signs show that, should the application be banned successfully in the country, then it will become much easier for other administration to also be able to ban platforms they don’t like or those they consider hostile to them.

Featured image by Pixabay