Critical Analysis:
the impact of TikTok restrictions in the USA and the rest of the world

In the aftermath of the most voted elections in the history of Portugal, and still with the uncertainty that any party with the most votes will be able to form a government, our attention takes a peek at what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, where the Senate of the United States of America is preparing for an unprecedented decision:  Blocking a mobile application from working in North American territory, more specifically, TikTok.

In recent years, TikTok has emerged as one of the most popular social media platforms worldwide, offering a unique and engaging way for users to express themselves, share content, and connect with other users.  Since this explosion in popularity, TikTok has faced increasing scrutiny from governments, especially in the United States of America, where concerns have been raised about the security of user data and possible links between TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, and the Chinese government, which has led some U.S. officials to claim that the app poses a threat to national security.

In response to these concerns, there have been attempts to ban or severely restrict TikTok in the United States, because doing so would be necessary to protect user data and safeguard national security. However, many have questioned whether these concerns are well-founded or used as a convenient excuse to promote political and economic interests, given the astronomical value that the algorithm developed by ByteDance represents (financially and technologically).

The justification of “national security” has historically been used by governments to restrict the rights and freedoms of citizens, often without a solid basis in terms of actual security threats. This raises serious questions about how governments can use this justification to advance their agendas, often at the expense of individual rights and freedom of expression.

In the case of TikTok, many argue that the real motive behind the ban attempts in the United States is to protect competing companies and promote economic interests, rather than to protect the security of user data. After all, the main demand that the US authorities make, so that TikTok can continue to operate in the US, is that it be sold to a more “US-friendly” company, or conglomerate of companies. This suggests that rhetoric around national security can be used opportunistically to justify discrimination against foreign companies and different political regimes.

A ban or restriction of TikTok in the United States would have significant implications for the rights and freedoms of American citizens, especially regarding freedom of expression and access to information. In addition, with the U.S. being a top influencer, other countries may soon follow suit, trampling on the rights and freedoms of citizens around the world.

TikTok has become a vital platform for millions of people around the world to express themselves, share their stories, connect with other communities, and make money from it. Restricting access to this platform would, essentially, limit people’s ability to express themselves freely online. In addition, a TikTok ban would also have a significant economic impact, which would affect not only the company behind the platform, but also content creators, advertisers, and other stakeholders who rely on it to generate revenue and connect with their audience.

Ultimately, the controversy surrounding TikTok highlights the complex challenges faced in the digital age, where concerns about the security of user data often conflict with individual rights and freedoms. While the protection of national security is important, it is crucial to ensure that restrictions imposed in the name of it are not used as a pretext to advance political or economic agendas and that citizens’ rights and freedoms are protected fairly and equitably.

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