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Why are lawmakers trying to ban TikTok?

 Colin Martinez watches TikTok
Clayre Scott

Colin Martinez said he enjoys using TikTok … but not as much as he used to.

“Just knowing what it knows about me and what it knows about everybody else, it's just not really a good idea,” he said. “You don't know if that data can end up in the hands of the Chinese government.”

Martinez is not the only one concerned. In November, Gov. Cox issued an executive order banning TikTok from state-owned devices, saying it “poses national security concerns including the possibility that the Chinese government uses TikTok to control data collection, influence TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, or compromise personal devices.”

Now, the White House is considering banning TikTok nationwide, an act which Clayton Brown, professor of Chinese History, said isn’t very surprising.

“Some people just want to outright ban it, because there's any kind of connection to China,” he said. “And that becomes problematic.”

TikTok is not the only social media app that collects our data — but the White House isn’t threatening to ban apps like Facebook, despite multimillion-dollar lawsuits against it … so why TikTok?

“I have seen on a personal level in the last 10 years or so that the relationship between China and the U.S. has really gone downhill,” said Brown.

Brown said there are potential threats from the Chinese government but this doesn’t mean TikTok poses a threat.

“The possibility that the Chinese government could have used TikTok or lean on it in some way, is possible,” he said. “But it's not a foregone conclusion.”

For those still using it, the future is up in the air.

“It's fun to look at. But it also is really time consuming,” said Martinez. “I probably will get rid of it sooner than later, regardless of what the government does.”

A long time lover of NPR and radio reporting, Clayre Scott joined UPR in August of 2021 as the producer of the weekly podcast UnDisciplined. She began reporting in 2022 and now enjoys telling stories through sound and getting weekly texts from her family after hearing her on the radio. Along with her work at UPR, Clayre is attending Utah State University to get her degree in Broadcast Journalism, with time on the side to study Political Science and Art History.