Op-Ed: TikTok’s Popularity Continues to Grow

Photo+illustration+purchased+from+BigStock.com.

Photo illustration purchased from BigStock.com.

Natalie Kozhemiakin

Have you ever found yourself scrolling through your social media feed for countless hours? I know I have.

This common routine can certainly be an addictive pattern for many, and it generates an environment where it is easy to neglect necessary work or other productive uses of your time in favor of mere entertainment.

During this current period of boredom and uncertainty, teens have gravitated towards the trending app TikTok as a way to escape from the outside world. Some teens view it as a way to connect with others through the form of humor and comical clips—others are more aware of the dangers the app contains.

Although the app has an enticing nature, The New York Times reported that TikTok has “serious vulnerabilities that would have allowed hackers to manipulate user data and reveal personal information.” 

The company has claimed to have resolved these issues, but the safety of its users continues to be at risk. 

“There are also concerns about the company’s data privacy practices,” the report claims. “In February, the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against TikTok, saying it illegally collected personal information from minors.”

While TikTok paid a $5.7 million settlement, the company is still being reviewed by the British Information Commissioner’s Office to investigate if it broke European privacy laws regarding minors.

Although this alarming situation could be a deterrent for downloading the app, it proved not to be with TikTok’s number of accounts increasing to 800 million active users worldwide.

The app is projected to receive more downloads than apps with higher recognition, such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.

After TikTok was purchased by ByteDance—a Chinese-based company—in November of 2017, TikTok has seen major success in the west. Its rapid rise to popularity attracted many from all around the world, including Europe and Asia. 

The app has assimilated itself into American culture with the rise of many young stars and the creation of exclusive groups dedicated to making videos for the platform. 

This app continues to gain controversy each day, with accusations being made by popular figures such as Lizzo, who claims that TikTok promotes body shaming by removing videos of her in a bathing suit—along with many other young women—while other similar videos are remaining posted.

TikTok is tempting to join because people can feel like they are missing out if they aren’t using the app and are unaware when new TikTok trends emerge—many of whom are not aware of its faults.

While the app may be popular, it is not immune to having flaws and putting its users’ information at risk. At a time when many people are turning to social media to relieve boredom, it is all the more important to keep the dangers of the app in mind in considering its usage.