TikTok: the New Pandemic


Lorendiz Gonzalez

TikTok is the new social media of Gen Z that has quickly increased in popularity during 2020. (Photo courtesy of Lorendiz Gonzalez, photo credits to Pixabay)

With TikTok having over two billion downloads worldwide and about eight hundred million monthly users, it’s no wonder why this app is all people have been talking about recently. What better time is there to mindlessly scroll through videos than during a worldwide pandemic? 

“The app can definitely make time go by faster and you can get lost on there by just swiping through videos,” said senior Natalie DeRosa.

TikTok’s popularity has increased in correlation with COVID-19 cases. With both being notorious icons of 2020, they have been the topics of conversations for months. Even if someone does not have TikTok, they have probably been part of a conversation where someone described to them a TikTok that they saw. 

The average TikTok user opens the app about an average of eight times a day and spends about fifty-two minutes on the app. Many students are deleting TikTok because of how much time they spend on it and the potential ban. 

“I had the app for about 5-6 years, but I literally deleted it a week ago because of the potential ban,” said senior Natalie DeRosa

 Douyin, the original name for TikTok, was created to compete in popularity with another popular and similar Gen Z app called Musical.ly. Then, a Chinese app developer named ByteDance bought musical.ly and merged the two apps together forming what is now known as TikTok. During its first year on the app store, TikTok gained about 100 million users. Because this app became popular so quickly, many TikTokers became famous with millions of followers. For example, Addison Rae, a TikToker with over 50 million followers, makes around 5 million dollars from TikTok a year. 

With its growing popularity, President Trump seems to be increasingly concerned about China’s privacy laws. Trump claims to be prohibiting TikTok due to speculation that China sensors out information that does not comply with the Chinese Government and Communist Party directives. Reports were made suggesting that China’s government has been saving and collecting data on American citizens to create a database. This was more exposed when the Office of Personnel Management was breached and 22 million Americans’ personal information was exposed which may create a way for the Chinese government to blackmail the United States for national security information. Over the past couple of months, the president has desperately tried to stop the spread of Tiktok; according to the Department of Commerce, starting on September 20, 2020, the App Store in America will not be allowing TikTok to update. However, many Americans wonder if Trump is spending more time trying to control the spread of TikTok than COVID-19.

 “I understand why [Trump] thinks he needs to ban [TikTok]; however, I feel like it’s not that important to do so when there are other things happening in the world,” said senior Carly Alexander 

Much like COVID-19, TikTok is here to stay. Literally. On Twitter, TikTok tweeted on September 19th, “We are here to stay.” 

 “I think that TikTok will definitely be relevant for a couple of years but  [App Developers] will most likely come up with a newer version to keep the younger generation interested,” explained senior Brigitte Pinochet. 

 Even if TikTok changes its privacy, it is not likely that President Trump will allow TikTok to update in America.

While it is unclear when COVID-19 will end, it is even more unclear if TikTok will. Because TikTok originated in China, the privacy settings are more invasive compared to the apps that originated in America. TikTok may not want to change its privacy settings even if it loses all its users in America because the app is doing so well worldwide. TikTok might have the potential to become as popular as Instagram and Snapchat, but America may not be able to participate in its popularity. If only COVID-19 could change its privacy settings, then our normal lives could finally return.