Students continue to use TikTok in spite of security concerns  

POV: Is TikTok a threat to my security?


taken by Avery Storm

Charli D’Amelio dances on TikTok to New Thang by Redfoo

POV: Is TikTok a threat to my security? Mount students may currently be asking themselves this question. Throughout the summer and until now, news has constantly been circulating stating that TikTok is violating our security by taking our information or allowing unwanted viewers on our pages.

For those of you who do not know, TikTok is a video-sharing social networking app that launched in 2016, but gained an abundance of popularity last year. On this app, creators from around the world can make and share videos to the general public. These videos can be about practically anything. They can be dance trends to popular songs or funny POVs (point of views) of different situations.

To call the app entertaining is an understatement. TikTok has about 800 million active users worldwide, which is more than other popular social media apps including Snapchat and Twitter. U.S. politicians say that TikTok is a national security threat. But is it really? Writers of popular news sites, such as CNN, have called this into question.

TikTok is currently run by a Chinese company, ByteDance. Policymakers are worried that the company could be forced to give US users’ data to the Chinese government. “It’s right to be suspicious of the Chinese,” said James Lewis, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a security think tank. “But I’m not sure TikTok is a good intelligence tool for them.” Even if TikTok collected enough data to pose a threat, it is not guaranteed that it would be easily accessible by the Chinese government.

In January, a team of security researchers found several vulnerabilities in TikTok, but the company is working to amend those flaws. TikTok is still a very young and inexperienced company that needs time to learn. According to Brian Fung from CNN, the biggest concern with TikTok is actually that it restricts some critical speech and is a major platform for misleading information. However, some government officials still believe that the app is a security threat. Recently, President Donald Trump has demanded that TikTok be purchased by a US company to keep our data secure. According to MarketWatch, Oracle has won the bid for TikTok, but there is a possibility that China may not sell it because they do not want to “appear weak in the face of U.S. pressure.”

The question remains, how does making TikTok videos pose a threat to school security? Also, why should Mount students care about the security risk? Mount students are constantly on TikTok.

The other night, Luca Bixby ‘21 spent three hours scrolling through TikTok. With the short videos, TikTok sucks you in, and you cannot seem to stop watching. This app is used by Mounties all throughout the school as not only a source of entertainment, but also a fun way to share and remember moments from their everyday lives.

Katie O’Connor ‘21 said, “I think it’s necessary to have TikTok on my iPad because it gives my brain a mental break during lunch or any breaks between classes.”

It is no secret that high school can be an incredibly stressful time during a person’s life, so many students view TikTok as an escape from their everyday stresses. TikTok provides aid for one’s emotional and mental health. Nevertheless, with the national threat that is thought to be occurring through this app, more precaution may have to be taken by Mount students.

Although most Mounties enjoy the app, many students also feel it violates their privacy or security in some way.

Julia Geib ‘22 said, “I sometimes am a little skeptical about my privacy on TikTok just because I don’t know where all the information is going.”

Many Mounties find it “creepy” that they constantly see videos on the app that relate to topics they recently searched up or talked about. TikTok has access to some private information in order to generate specific videos for each user of the app.

Another concern about TikTok at the Mount is its distracting nature. A lot of students agree that it can be “addicting.” Many said that they go on TikTok when they are bored at home, but lose track of time and can end up spending hours on the app. Most Mounties, however, do not find it distracting when they are occupied during class.

Cassie Koestler ‘21 said, “The only time I watch TikTok during school is when someone sends me one and never during class.”

Most students try to avoid using the app during school, unless it is for a short “mind break” during lunch or advisory. Going on TikTok for short intervals during breaks in the school day can be beneficial to students; well being, as long as they do not let it distract them from their schoolwork.

TikTok is an entertaining and enjoyable app, but the security risks and other negatives should still be taken into consideration when using it.