The TikTok Ban Debate

The U.S. House approved legislation to ban TikTok, citing its Chinese algorithm. The move faces legal challenges due to free speech concerns.
teen girl obsessively looking at phone in bed at night

Our United States House of Representatives has approved legislation to ban the social media platform known as TikTok. This is a platform that has managed to attract approximately 170 million Americans, many of which are adolescents. It is based on an algorithm from China and has featured an ability to engage its users in compelling ways.

The idea of a social media ban which insists on a sale to another company is controversial. In this legislation, TikTok would have roughly nine months and that deadline could be extended by the White House — for a period of 90 days — if President Biden determines there’s been progress toward a sale. It most probably will be contested legally as a violation of the freedom of speech. I would assume social media companies will pursue legal action to prevent our Congress from being able to ban social media platforms of any kind.

Some of the research and feedback about TikTok has strong implications for today’s youth as we continue to wrestle with their mental health issues. In a report by CNN, Jerome Yankey said he used to pull all-nighters when he was in college – not studying or partying, but scrolling on TikTok until the sun came up.

“I saw me not putting the effort into my own life, rather just trying to live vicariously through what I’m seeing,” said 23-year old Yankey. He said he lost sleep, his grades suffered, and he fell out of touch with friends and himself.

Fortunately Jerome did stop using the platform and actually began living a normal life that was far more healthy. This is just one example of the impact of such a powerful platform that has had so much impact on our youth.

GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher, the chairman of a new House select committee on China, recently called TikTok “digital fentanyl” for allegedly having a “corrosive impact of constant social media use, particularly on young men and women here in America.” Indiana’s attorney general filed two suits against TikTok, including one alleging the platform lures children onto the platform by falsely claiming it is friendly for users between 13 to 17 years old. And one study from a non-profit group claimed TikTok may surface potentially harmful content related to suicide and eating disorders to teenagers within minutes of them creating an account.

The issues are complex but most of all I am relieved there is significant scrutiny in our country and among our leadership on a platform like TikTok. It is certainly not the only platform currently under such scrutiny. With so many engaged in almost an addictive way to social media I do believe we should be extremely vigilant about the kind of impact that can lead to a lifetime of harm, negative messaging, and some very destructive habits. I recognize this is part of our world, but it can be a dangerous part we should manage with responsibility and a goal to safeguard our youth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *