Have you heard of the app Tik Tok? It’s an app blowing up across the world — even our reporter Aaron uses it:
TikTok lets people create short looping comedy and talent videos.
It’s most commonly used by younger generations, but you can find people of all ages using the app.
However, it’s owned by Chinese developer ByteDance and two U.S. Senators say the app poses a national security threat. The senators say while TikTok says it stores U.S. user data in the United States, the company must still adhere to Chinese law on supplying information to the government.
“We are providing [China]with millions and millions of videos of us in this country and other countries around the world,” says KX News Tech Guru Marlo Anderson.
“I mean they are just gathering information like crazy about everything that is out there,” he says. “And I’m not saying that China or anyone else is going to go out there and use this information against us, but if they ever need to there know where our transformers are at so if they want to take down our power grid or whatever they wanted to do then they would have this information and we are giving it to them free of charge.”
TikTok isn’t available in China, and ByteDance insists that keeping its users’ trust is of utmost importance. The app has been downloaded more than 1 billion times worldwide and was the number 1 downloaded app last month.
TikTok came out about 3 years ago and originally was named Music.ly.
However, after a 5.7 billion dollar settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over-collecting data on child users without parental consent, it was rebranded as TikTok.
It brings into the question if it’s appropriate for everyone. Right now you must be at least 13 years old to have an account. There are really no filters when it comes to what your child might hear or see on the app. Not only that, but there is a threat of potential predators due to the easy access of video sharing.
Anderson says, “You’re giving people information about yourself and maybe it’s not a concern or maybe it is. I mean you have to think about maybe what you do for a living as the parents of these children or whatever and is that going to impact you in some way? Is it going to impact their ability to get a job 3, 4, or 5 years from now? I’m a person who employs people and I look at their resume but its almost resume and then social media.”
There are safety features to TikTok which include a digital well-being element (which is password protected). This alerts users who have been on the app for more than 2 hours. You can also turn on ‘restricted mode’ to filter out inappropriate content on the app. Also, you can set an account to be private so all videos can only be seen by the person who posted it.
At the end of the day, it is up to you as a parent to decide whether or not you think your child is mature enough or not to use the app.