The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

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The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

Students react to the potential TikTok ban

In this podcast, host Greyson Sale discusses sophomores Hazel McCarthy, Annalise Atkinson, and Evan Morris about their thought on the potential TikTok ban.
Greyson Sale
In this podcast, host Greyson Sale discusses sophomores Hazel McCarthy, Annalise Atkinson, and Evan Morris about their thought on the potential TikTok ban.

Greyson Sale (he/him): Hi, I’m Greyson Sale and in this podcast, I’m going to be looking into and talking with some students about the potential TikTok Ban. On March 13th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that could lead to a TikTok ban. The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, which, “prohibits distributing, maintaining or providing Internet hosting services for a foreign adversary controlled application” was passed with strong bipartisan support, only receiving 65 votes against the ban, while 352 votes were in favor. If it passes the Senate, it will effectively ban TikTok unless it is sold to a U.S.-owned company. Although the idea of a TikTok ban has surfaced many times now, the app now faces real worry that it will be banned from its largest market, one with over 150 million users, 45% of the United States population. Many SPA students have strong opinions about this highly controversial topic. Sophomores Annalise Atkinson, Hazel McCarthy, and Evan Morris share their thoughts. Here’s Annalise Atkinson. What are your thoughts on the proposed TikTok ban?

Annalise Atkinson (she/her): So I am against it because I really enjoy TikTok and it’s a great way for me to like kind of like see what other people are doing around the world or like, see other things like it’s just like a really good, like time waster and way for me to, like, connect with like other people but like without having to talk to them.

Sale: For many other SPA students, teenagers, Americans, and people around the world, TikTok can be an escape.

Atkinson: It’s like when I’m really tired after a long day or a lot of homework, I’ll use it as a way to kind of relax and wind down and just sort of a calming thing, I guess.

Sale: Hazel McCarthy appreciates TikTok for similar reasons.

Hazel McCarthy (she/her): I think that it’s a good place for people to share their creativity and it’s a good way to relax. Like I use it just to relax in my house.

Sale: Do you think TikTok has a lot of power to influence?

McCarthy: Yeah, definitely. I think people can get influenced really easily, especially if they like to see a bunch of other people their age or yeah, like their age trying to do specific things.

Sale: And you think that it could be like a potential negative side of it or like a reason to try and like, regulate it somehow?

McCarthy: Yeah, probably. I think that the power to like influence younger people is really strong, especially when people who are like in middle school use TikTok and they’re in that like awkward stage where they really want to like fit in and like seeing a bunch of older people on TikTok, they’ll start to like, act older and like, I think that’s a problem.

Sale: McCarthy believes that the unique attention given to TikTok in comparison with other social media applications is unwarranted.

McCarthy: Yeah, I think that, um, if you’re focusing on that part of TikTok, you should also focus on that part of like Instagram and Snapchat because those are both very much like TikTok in that same like power to influence. And so if you’re thinking about banning TikTok, then you should think about banning like other things, too.

Sale: For many people, this distinction between TikTok and other social media apps has become confusing, and they wonder, is TikTok really so different? Another thing that has many confused are the representatives and senators who are on TikTok themselves.

Atkinson: Yeah, they’re definitely like a lot of political figures on TikTok and it’s a way for them to like campaigns. But then they’re also campaigning against TikTok on TikTok. And it’s really contradictory. And I definitely don’t agree with like that.

Sale: Like many others, McCarthy and Atkinson believe that TikTok is mostly a source of good in the lives of its users. They are hoping that the TikTok ban does not get passed.

Atkinson: I love TikTok. Hashtag live, laugh, love, TikTok.

Sale: Evan Morris has a more critical view of TikTok. Here’s Morris. So obviously this has happened before. Do you think there’s […] Do you think anything is going to happen?

Evan Morris (he/him): I think that it could. What happened in 2020, I think it was mixed up in a lot of other like socio-political like factors. And I think that’s kind of what we’re seeing mirrored today. But at the same time, I’m not entirely sure. I didn’t like in 2020, which I think was when the last one happened. I didn’t see as much leniency toward the passing of a bill to ban it. And at least now it seems like almost everyone’s for this that’s like in the House of Representatives and stuff like that. So I definitely think it could happen.

Sale: As Morris mentioned, this is not the first time that there has been a potential TikTok ban. In 2020, former president Donald Trump led the initial push to prohibit TikTok through an executive order expressing worries about national security. He advocated for Microsoft to acquire TikTok, but this deal fell through. Subsequently, the software corporation Oracle presented its own proposal to become Tiktok’s partner in the United States. Following significant pressure, TikTok consented to safeguard US data by forming a partnership with Oracle. However, concerns still exist about data security. Although many are worried about the possibility of a ban, more subtle alternatives exist.

Morris: I do think there does definitely need to be some measures that we should look at to address it, and I’m not sure if an outright ban would be the right way to do that, but I think that at least looking at TikTok critically and their privacy and user privacy and stuff like that is important. What I expect is that I don’t think it will be outright banned. I think that it will either be sold or like some new regulations will go in place to it’s Byte something, like the Chinese company that manages it, you know, to add some regulations to help protect user security and stuff like that because that’s the main problem that I’ve heard people voicing with TikTok. And I’m doing some sustainability campaigning at the Capitol and stuff like that and just with like TikTok is just like such a great way to get initial viewership for your account and stuff like that. Because with Instagram reels and stuff like that, it’s hard. Like their algorithm, it doesn’t really support small creators in the way TikTok does.

Sale: As Morris mentioned, he helps run social media for a group that does sustainability. campaigning at the capitol. Like many others, he’s found TikTok to be a powerful and helpful tool.

Morris: We’re interviewing local legislators, local activists, local business owners and stuff like that and trying to get their views on it and then using TikTok as a way to provide that content and that information to the general public in an easy-to-digest and, um, fast format way and then in hopes that we will eventually get them to go and look into it more themselves or spawn an interest in some individuals to contact their local legislators and support these bills that, um, the organization is trying to pass.

Sale: So I guess we’ve talked about a lot of the positives about TikTok, but I think especially for high schoolers on TikTok, people sort of push off like the danger that it could pose. And, you know, I don’t want to say that it’s extremely dangerous or like really take a side, but I think that it’s not as if, you know, the government is just completely in the wrong, you know. There’s a reason this is being looked into.

Morris: Certainly. So I’ll get to national security in a second, but I think a lot of the things that I’ve heard people saying and I definitely have seen is a prioritization of certain content over others, especially when it comes to the political spectrum. I think that a big point, I’m not going to take a stance on it, but I think that big point is that they’ve been pushing a lot of pro-Palestinian content and putting away pro-Israeli content and that the algorithm kind of like favors one over the other. So that’s the argument that I’ve heard, and I think that’s definitely dangerous to a very, um, what’s the word like influenceable audience with teenagers and young people and stuff like that where they really could get into something that’s just completely false news. And it’s not just the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It extends to other issues because I think that a lot of teenagers use it as almost a news outlet and they get their information about what’s happening in the world from TikTok. So I think when you give that power to a company that, um, may not have the best interests at heart or a country that has historically been at, um, has had tensions with the U.S., I think that that could be dangerous.

Sale: From a beloved relaxation tool to a highly influential platform to a potential issue of national security, TikTok is complicated. Although there are many unknowns, one thing’s for sure: a TikTok ban would have a powerful impact on its 150 million American users.

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About the Contributor
Greyson Sale
Greyson Sale, News Editor
Hi, I’m Greyson Sale (he/him). I work as a News Editor for RubicOnline, and this is my second year on staff. At school, I run track, am co-President of the Stock Market Club. and am a member of the Sophomore Class Leadership Council. Outside of school, I love rock climbing and get to compete on the national level. I'm even hoping to compete at some North American Cup events soon. I can be reached at [email protected].

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