Report: United States Government Investigating TikTok

Where memes and absurdism meet questions of national security

A new report suggests that the United States government is currently reviewing TikTok over security concerns.
TheBetterDay/Creative Commons

In the last year, social network TikTok has become increasingly popular with a younger generation of Americans. Late last year, an explainer at Vox described how it works: “Users film videos of themselves lip-syncing or acting out comedy sketches, up to 15 seconds long, and can choose from a database of songs, effects, or sound bites.” It’s an approach that favors collaboration, and so it’s easy to see how that might lead to a plethora of viral videos, and a growing base of users. It’s also made some of its most popular users famous

That’s the good news. The bad news? According to a report in The New York Times, the United States government is currently investigating TikTok. More specifically, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States “has opened a national security review of a Chinese company’s acquisition of the American company that became TikTok.”

Even more alarming is a report from one of the people who was briefed on these proceedings: “One of the people said that the American government had evidence of the app sending data to China.”

Whether or not TikTok is being monitored by the Chinese government — and, if it is, to what extent content is being censored or regulated — is a hotly-debated topic

As the Times reports, tensions have been high between the United States and China, and it’s something that’s had an impact on trade and technology: “U.S. government officials have been particularly alarmed by the implications of China’s 2017 national intelligence law, which contains sweeping language that requires companies to comply with intelligence gathering operations, if asked.”

TikTok’s videos may abound with memes and comedy, but the geopolitical ramifications of this investigation are both serious and sobering.

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