By Lexi Meola
Elm Staff Writer
In a year that’s seen a global pandemic, a movement for racial justice, and terrifying updates surrounding climate change, President Donald Trump and his administration are focused on TikTok and WeChat.
TikTok, a social media app that seems to be most popular with younger generations, is owned by a Chinese company ByteDance. WeChat is a Chinese messaging app that people use to stay in contact with friends and family globally.
The Trump administration claims that both apps are a national security threat to American users.
As reported by CNN, TikTok has denied that it is a danger to United States users and has no ties to the Chinese government.
“We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked,” TikTok spokesperson Hilary McQuaide told TechCrunch.
Many believe that Trump’s main fight with TikTok comes after users of the app derailed a Trump rally in Tulsa, Okla. earlier this summer. TikTok users who had no intention of going to the rally reserved tickets. According to The New York Times, over a million tickets were reserved and only 6,200 tickets were scanned on the day of the rally.
Since then, the Trump administration has been dead set on getting TikTok banned for American users. Trump’s insistence that TikTok and WeChat are national security threats is meant to distract us from the real reason for the ban: Trump’s ego was hurt.
Trump has never liked criticism. The manner in which he treats journalists, artists, and activists who speak out against him is unpresidential.
Just last week Trump bashed former Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle to reporters, saying he is “not a fan,” according to The Hill. This declaration comes after Markle and Prince Harry’s interview with Time Magazine, in which Markle encouraged Americans to vote in the upcoming election.
TikTok, with its large community of Trump criticizers, is not a national security threat to the U.S. The energy which Trump has expended on banning TikTok should have been used for the real online threat — Facebook.
Since 2016, it has been reported on numerous occasions that Russian bots are feeding false information to the American people. According to The New York Times, Russia bought fake American Facebook profiles to spread misinformation in time for the 2016 election.
So why is Trump not investigating Facebook?
It’s because the false information currently being spread on the site is helping him mislead and betray the American people in his favor. TikTok should be the least of Trump’s concerns.
According to National Public Radio, the latest deal with TikTok and the U.S. is not releasing TikTok from ByteDance fully.
“The newly formed TikTok Global will have an ownership structure where software company Oracle and Walmart will jointly command 20% and 80% stays in ByteDance’s grip,” NPR said.
While this might be a win for Trump, the Chinese State media has slammed his administration for the recent deal, calling it “dirty.” Both The Global Times and China Daily have shown distaste for the deal.
“What the United States has done to TikTok is almost the same as a gangster forcing an unreasonable and unfair business deal on a legitimate company,” one China Daily column said.
As this deal has not gone through completely, the fates of TikTok and WeChat are still undecided. However, there is no doubt that the Trump administration is looking for any excuse that would lead them to have “no choice” but to ban the apps for American users.
Younger generations, like Generation Z, might stand to lose the most from the ban. They have been using TikTok to express their views on topical issues like Black Lives Matter, women’s rights, and the upcoming presidential election.
The Trump administration has proven time and again that they will do whatever necessary to silence its opposers. By getting rid of TikTok, they will be starting a war with a younger generation who have proven they will not be silenced.
Featured Photo caption: President Donald Trump’s recent proposed TikTok and WeChat ban has been met with criticism, with many accusing the president of prioritizing the apps over legitimate national security threats. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.