Students fear potential ban and new restrictions on Tiktok

Your neighbor’s cat crawling the wall. Catchy dance moves. Learning to read. These are things students spend hours of their day watching in class and during their time at home on Tiktok.
Now, the social media platform is being throttled by the U.S. government and its agencies for privacy concerns and its presumed relationship with the Chinese government. The app is owned by Bytedance, a Chinese company that could presumably be giving the Chinese government unauthorized access to user information and privacy settings.
Tiktok is everywhere. From Generation Z to the baby boomers, a ban of Tiktok would impact millions of individuals across the country.
For students at AHS, it would simply fall in line.
Instagram, Netflix, specific Youtube content, all banned from the FCPS network. Students recently attempted to visit the website of a photographer who frequently photographs AHS girls lacrosse games, his website? Blocked.
While some of these restrictions are blatantly silly and potentially harmful to students’ learning ability, they are understandable to the extent that they prevent students from abusing distractions in class.
“I’d be lying if I said I never used Tiktok in school because I definitely do. I avoid using it a lot so I primarily use it during down time or in-between classes,” junior Zach Plank said. “I see kids in classes just putting their head down and earbuds in and just ignoring the teacher all class and I think that’s wrong.”
Students maintain access to social media and entertainment apps on their phone because the school’s network cannot restrict their access, so while they can limit their internet use, they can not eliminate its use entirely.
Social media apps have faced security concerns in the past, specifically Instagram and its parent company Facebook. However, a national ban was never in question.
Now, momentum is building towards a Tiktok ban becoming a reality.
Last month, in accordance with a previous bill passed by Congress, the White House issued a 30 day deadline in February for all government agencies and federal employees to remove Tiktok from their government-issued devices.
Additionally, the House Foreign Affairs Committee recently debated a bill that would ban Tiktok completely from all devices. Lastly, Tiktok CEO Shou Zi Chew faced a panel of federal lawmakers in court on March 23, signifying the pressure on Tiktok from the US government.
Created in 2018, Tiktok has captivated an international audience and has become the most downloaded entertainment app in the world, surpassing other dominant platforms in Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. The app initially rose to prominence on the back of viral dance trends, although it has expanded to create a holistic entertainment experience for all audiences.
Tiktok’s unique algorithm gives users customized videos specific to their interests based on their interactions and time watched history. Tiktok algorithm catering to users activity raises red flags about it’s tracking of individuals data, but regardless, it has been successful in increasing the app’s prominence.
“Tiktok is so entertaining because it gives me a variety of different videos from various people to inform or entertain me when I have nothing else to do,” sophomore Jaden Banos said. “It’s a great way to pass the time, but a ban would not be the worst thing because people, including myself, spend too much time mindlessly scrolling through content without a break.”
In an effort to curb the amount of time that teenagers spend on Tiktok daily, the app is implementing a new one-hour limit on all users under the age of 18. This restriction is effective in theory, although users under the age of 18 can easily manipulate their way around this to use Tik Tok as much as they wish.
This new restriction, paired with the repeated attempts from the US government to eliminate the use of Tiktok from both federal employees and the American people, signals a shift towards the shutdown of one of social media’s biggest revelations.