Using the well-known app TikTok, 13-year-old Cassidy Jacobson uploaded a video of herself dancing.
She had no idea that six years later, her Casssidy J account on the short-form video platform would have 1.5 million followers who were captivated to her passion for dancing and hair care.
150 million Americans use the TikTok app, and Jacobson hopes to exploit her success there to launch her own brand of curly hair products and encourage others to embrace their own natural curls.
That dream, along with those of other TikTok creators, might come to an end as a result of pressure from lawmakers who want the Biden administration to impose a ban on the popular social media app owned by China in the country on the grounds that it could be used for data collection, content censorship, and harm to children’s mental health.
Last week, TikTok reported that the Biden administration required its Chinese owners to sell their holdings or risk being banned.
If the Chinese business ByteDance, which is the owner of TikTok, is denied permission to continue offering the app in the United States, Jacobson is ready for the potential that she may have to take her content elsewhere.
“TikTok is kind of rocky right now and the goal of a content creator is to grow yourself across platforms to have a solid community, you don’t just want to focus on one app,” Jacobson told Reuters.
The influencer makes sure to diversify her content, whether it’s producing whole new material for YouTube reels or moving her TikTok video to Instagram.
Thursday’s tense congressional session had legislators grilling TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew with difficult questions.
“We do not promote or remove content at the request of the Chinese government,” Chew told the hearing, adding the app was “free from any manipulation.”
According to Allie Funk, Research Director for Technology and Democracy at Freedom House, there are less drastic alternatives to outright banning the app.
“Congress could pass a robust privacy law and bolster requirements for companies to be more transparent about their operations and practices,” she told Reuters.
She advocates a thorough privacy regulation to restrict TikTok data collecting as well as recurring audits to maintain openness.
Several TikTok stars are arguing for preservation without restriction even though it’s still unclear whether the bill sponsored by senators to give the Commerce Department authority to outlaw foreign technology will pass.
“There needs to be protection for users on apps, I think the only way is for the government holding ginormous companies accountable, whether they’re U.S.-based or they’re based in China,” Jacobson said.
She thinks that privacy intrusions from anyone hurt everyone, no matter the country.
Some Democratic politicians share that opinion, and some are concerned about the political repercussions for President Joe Biden of outlawing something so popular with young people.
A prohibition, in the opinion of self-love-centric trans Chicana TikTok creator NaomiHearts, would make her less confident in Biden, for whom she cast her support in 2020.
“We put our trust in someone, in my mind there’s no good politician,” said Naomi, who declined to give her full name. “But I put him in office because I believed in what he stood for and as time goes by, I think this is going to affect a lot of people’s opinions.”
As TikTok has provided Naomi with chances she hasn’t discovered on other platforms, Naomi admitted she is a little hesitant to go to those other sites.
Beyond fame and fans, TikTok supporters think it offers jobs, avenues for social change, and a feeling of community.
“As a trans person in this world, they (society) don’t really care about us, so to be able to make six figures a year because of TikTok, and brands reaching out to me because of that app, it’s wild,” she said.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)