The U.S. Ban on TikTok: Privacy Security or Fear of Losing Control of Public Opinion? Digital Right is a joke.

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As an important place for people to communicate, share and interact in modern society, the design of social media platforms is not only related to user experience but also involves many vital aspects such as privacy security, network security and digital rights, and even national security. The development of social media and the comprehensive application of big data has once again aroused more attention to the security and privacy of personal information online. Social media platforms’ use of user data for targeted recommendations may lead to privacy and autonomy issues for users (Gonzalez-Bailon, 2017). Especially for the head company, TikTok, it is imperative to justify its use of user privacy as reasonable, secure, and confidential. In the Internet information age, protecting citizens’ digital rights and privacy security is an important issue faced by governments and platforms, which need to ensure that citizens’ personal information is not abused and violated as much as possible. The U.S. ban on TikTok has sparked a broader debate about privacy, security and digital rights.

Emphasis on network security and information security

The United States says TikTok, owned by the Chinese company Byte Dance, could leak sensitive user data, saying the digital media platform has stirred controversy over the way it collects, stores and uses American user data outside the United States. Based on this suspicion, the U.S. government decided to remove TikTok to protect the digital rights and personal privacy of the American people. In addition to privacy and digital rights, national security was also an important consideration in the decision. With the rapid development of information technology and the process of information globalization, the security problem of digital media platforms has become increasingly prominent. In the era of big data, the rise of public social media platforms has brought more personal information privacy issues (Smith et al., 2012). How to reasonably regulate platforms while ensuring relative freedom of speech is a common problem for all platforms at present. Especially for personal privacy, users often do not check the specific content of the agreed terms when choosing software, and the increasingly rich algorithm mode of media is more likely to lead to the disclosure of personal information and information security problems.


The U.S. government says protecting the nation’s information security is an important task that requires decisive measures to guard against potential security risks.

Tik Tok has been accused of serious problems in the collection of user data and the use of personal information, violating the digital rights of citizens and violating U.S. law.

Adverse media abuse of personal information and even selling personal data to third parties in order to make a profit is a serious violation of the citizens’ personal privacy and digital rights. This behaviour not only exposes the risk to citizens’ personal information but also raises questions and concerns about the way digital platforms operate.

According to the requirements of the U.S. government, TikTok stores the personal information of U.S. users on the cloud server of the U.S. Oracle and accepts third-party supervision and review to prove that the personal information of local users will not be leaked and used by third parties.

However, after two hearings, the U.S. government still decided to Ban TikTok as a “positive” response to the protection of citizens’ digital rights. The U.S. side still said that the security problems of the TikTok platform are becoming increasingly serious, and the government needs to strengthen supervision and management to ensure the stability and security of the information system.

Digital rights in today’s world

Privacy leakage caused by platforms is one of the key issues that network security and Internet platforms need to deal with at present. The existing social media platform governance framework has some limitations and shortcomings that need to be further improved to better protect user data (Flew,2021). Ensuring users’ information security requires the joint efforts of social media companies and national regulatory authorities to solve the problem better.

However, there are also concerns that restrictions on the media or individuals may have a negative impact on freedom of expression and the dissemination of information, calling on the government to find a balance between media digital rights, security and media freedom.

Data justice is a key factor in the digital age, and how to ensure that all people enjoy digital rights and freedom of information fairly is crucial (Taylor, 2017). However, the US decision to ban TikTok has also sparked a worldwide debate about the contemporary balance between free speech and digital rights.

The US government’s allegations against TikTok are baseless accusations without any direct actual evidence, depriving the American people of their right to freely choose media and freely access information. As a huge media platform with 170 million users, this gratuitous prohibition has broken the free choice of American users, and the right to use media is also great damage to media freedom and democracy. The final requirement of the U.S. government for TikTok to complete the U.S. localization and sell 80% of its shares is to directly strip TikTok of all its current achievements in the United States and give it away. Such hegemonic behaviour is undoubtedly contrary to digital rights. As a massive social platform, TikTok has influenced every aspect of American life. According to TikTok, more than 5 million businesses use TikTok as one of their online business operations channels (TikTok, 2023).

TikTok offers millions of ordinary people a relatively fair and equal social media platform to create and publish their own content and earn a living from it.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution establishes the right to free speech, guaranteeing the right of citizens to express their opinions without government interference. The same law should apply to social media today, allowing the media to report news and comment on events freely without government interference or censorship. However, such unwarranted blocking is undoubtedly a violation of its laws and has seriously affected the digital rights and freedom of speech of the media industry, especially the foreign media industry, in the United States.

This unjustified hegemonic behaviour also brought about a democratic counterattack, and TikTok pushed a statement to adult users in the United States that said, “If you don’t want us to be banned, please pick up the phone and call Congress to report this matter.” Many TikTok users in the United States actively participated, which led to the collapse of its relevant departments. The massive backlash further reflects the public’s objective view on the issue and their determination to uphold their digital rights and freedom of expression. The U.S. government needs to find a balance between protecting users’ personal privacy and data security while avoiding excessive interference with media freedom and the dissemination of information.

International response and future prospects

This decision not only triggered a heated debate in China but also had certain repercussions on the international community. China believes the United States is spreading disinformation and suppressing foreign media (BBC NEWS, 2023). TikTok has restrictions in countries such as Australia that prohibit government personnel from installing on public devices, but it is not intended to ban personal use entirely, as is the current state in the United States (Taylor, 2023). However, countries represented by India believe that TikTok infringes on the privacy and security of users, and its user data is an act that damages the privacy and information security of users. However, more people say that such unfounded accusations are a serious violation of people’s media freedom and users’ digital rights.

The rapid development and expansion of social media platforms have led to increasing privacy issues for the state and users, as well as information security issues and digital rights issues. Social media platforms use a variety of technologies to collect, analyze and use user data (Kshetri, 2012). The development of social media platforms makes use of the convenience of big data to better analyze users’ privacy and information to provide them with more personalized and rational recommendations, thus deepening users’ usage time. The development of social media platforms enables more and more ordinary people to obtain more information and consultation, and at the same time, they can also use this platform for profit and development. This is undoubtedly a better embodiment and application of the democratization of digital rights. Ordinary people also have the right to publish information and create content, which further develops the process of digital democratization, and people have a broader way to obtain information about a certain event.

However, it is difficult for the state and government to regulate the privacy management of social media and the rationality of the use of users’ information. The use of big data for user data today is based on different algorithms between different social media platforms, and the operation logic of this algorithm and the specific data involves business secrets. The lack of transparency and accountability in the formulation and implementation of secret rules makes it possible for the rules to be abused and have a negative impact on social order(Suzor,2019). It is difficult for governments to impose effective restrictions. Therefore, the government and the platform need to reach relative consistency and maintain a cooperative communication relationship to better ensure the security and standardized use of users’ personal information privacy and avoid large-scale leakage problems. At the same time, the government’s restrictions on platforms should not be overly intrusive so as to avoid depriving media freedom of speech and users’ right to freely choose to use media. Due to the global nature of social media platforms, different countries and cultures have different restrictions. How to develop a reasonable platform regulation system and content censorship system is the best way to ensure every user’s digital rights.

The part of digital rights that is worth exploring today is the control that individuals have over their own information and ensuring that this information is not abused or used without authorization. User information data is the capital for the operation and further development of social media platforms. However, users’ control over their information and ensuring that this information is not misused or unauthorized are common issues that both platforms and users need to face. The platform does not inform users of the use of their personal information in a specific, relatively public manner. User data is more abused in today’s big data models. The problem of data security is also becoming increasingly prominent, and incidents such as data leakage of a large number of users caused by hackers attacking platform servers frequently occur, bringing huge losses and risks to individuals and organizations (Bollier & Firestone, 2010). Government departments need to ensure the security of users’ personal data while ensuring that it is not abused by individuals or other organizations to further safeguard citizens’ digital rights.

In conclusion, the security of personal information data today requires mutual supervision and cooperation between different countries, platforms, and users. The government should reasonably supervise the legality and rationality of the platform’s use of users’ personal information to ensure the security of users’ data, and at the same time ensure that the platform and citizens’ digital rights cannot excessively interfere with users’ right to freely choose and use media to ensure the further development of the democratization of digital rights.


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