By Sabrina Dhanoya
TikTok persists to revolutionize the modern culture of Gen-Z, but from the very founding of the app, it has been consistently condemned by congressional officials who argue that the app posesa national security threat because it is owned by ByteDance, a China-based tech company.
The Biden Administration’s security concerns aren’t unfounded as ByteDance does possess user data that is shared with the Chinese government, and may even influence their users with misinformation about politics. On the contrary, however, we can not ignore how it serves as the modern platform that millennials and Gen-Z primarily choose to mobilize their voice.
According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, as of early March of 2023, approximately 50% of U.S. adults supported a federal ban on the platform, which has decreased to 38% as of September.
As expected, the majority of US teens contest the support for our federal government to ban the use of the app, as 50% of teens aging from thirteen to seventeen years old oppose the ban and 31% are unsure. This raises the question—what is responsible for the declining support for a TikTok ban among the average voter, a change that happened in only a span of six months? Most importantly we must explore what role TikTok may play in the upcoming 2024 election.
Although the uproar to outlaw the app has decreased, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Hailey persistently claims it is the most dangerous social media outlet, alongside Ron Desantis. Whereas other Republican candidates, such as Vivek Ramaswamy use the app to connect to the younger generation of voters.
As a nation, we have witnessed how TikTok holds a prolific impact on the culture of millennials and Gen Z, from their rhetoric, their creative dance trends, and even their political decision-making—but will it pose as drastic of an influence on young voters in the 2024 election?
The support of TikTok has skyrocketed, especially within the political sphere, where Democratic politicians have created their own accounts. According to Bloomberg News, in response to Montana’s attempt to execute a state ban, our very own Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo, explicitly stated, “A ban would ‘lose every voter under 35 forever.’”
In Montana’s suit, Judge Donald W. Moll filed a preliminary injunction against Montana’s law, as he stated that enacting the statute would violate Americans’ right to the First Amendment, in addition to the Commerce Clause. In his opinion, he stated that Montana will not only be intervening, but even intruding upon the United State’s foreign affairs. Therefore it would be directly left to the federal government and not the States to withhold this power.
In turn, Montanians’ liberty to use TikTok for “self expression” and “entertainment” remains upheld. It is expected that the Supreme Court will hear state laws governing the moderation of social media content, or in other words, whether the states’ power shall be limited or expanded. This case was followed by a lawsuit filed by TikTok and fellow creators, in addition to the states of Arkansas, Indiana, and Ohio filing suits against TikTok for endangering their citizens with deceptive and harmful business practices. A complete ban would constitutionalize an overstep of the states. The constitutionality of resorting to this ban is faulty because it would infringe upon citizens’ right to the First Amendment.
This app has overcome the turbulence these hearings created. It stands as the largest outlet in the country that accesses 150 million young Americans. The app’s rise is connected to the 2020 election having the second-highest turnout among young voters in the past three decades.
TikTok advanced turnout tremendously in the prior election, but as of 2020, there was a 255% increase in adults under 30 stating that they regularly got their news from the app. Through observing the prolific influence the app holds over the younger generation, we will witness both the favorable or disadvantageous impact it will have on presidential candidates.
TikTok has revolutionized our way of communicating and transforming our collective thought, especially in the political climate. The expansive engagement TikTok has foregone since 2020 has the capability to yield the biggest turnout of young voters in the 2024 election.
IMAGE from Freepik