Montana has become the first state to completely ban TikTok for its residents, and I for one couldn’t be more supportive. As a proud American, I’m gravely concerned about TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, and their access to the personal data of me and my fellow citizens. Also, as a jaded, thirty-something marketing professional, I’m annoyed and vaguely threatened by any social media I didn’t grow up with. So, this is a win-win.
I’d actually like to see the federal government follow Montana’s lead and ban TikTok across the United States. The threats posed by TikTok to everyday Americans are many—security, safety, and control of personal data. And the threats posed to mid-thirties marketers, who pat themselves on the back for watching Hot Ones, are also many—vibe checks, dance challenges, Addison Rae, and so on.
Frankly, I agree with many in our government who believe that TikTok is using its recommendation algorithm to push misinformation that undermines trust in institutions. And I know for a fact TikTok has popularized the idea of “millennial pause,” which is used to directly undermine my authority during our creative team brainstorming sessions.
If a nationwide TikTok ban were to take effect, Americans could rest easy knowing an autocratic regime won’t have covert access to their sensitive data. And I could rest easy, no longer fearing that a junior designer on our team will off-handedly mention their “for you page” only to have my mouth fall slightly open as I silently nod along even though I have no idea what the hell they’re talking about.
With a ban in place, Americans would no longer worry that their face data or home address is being stored and accessed by the Chinese government. And I would no longer live in fear of our social media manager referring to their latest “duet,” leading me to excuse myself to the restroom to frantically google “duet tik tok,” only to have the first few results assume I already know what a “duet” is, when what I’m really looking for is a Wikipedia-like description of the feature.
I remember a simpler time in this country when Americans didn’t have to worry that foreign powers were harvesting their location information. It was a time long before “cooking chicken in Nyquil,” back when “ghost riding whips” was still the media-generated internet panic of the day.
We all know America succeeds when there’s a common foe. TikTok is that foe. A desire to ban TikTok might be the only common ground bringing together right-wing China hawks and thirty-something marketing professionals who reference Robot Chicken like it’s still a thing.
I salute Montana for taking a bold first step. And I heartily encourage the United States government to follow suit. May we one day live in a country where our personal data is monetized solely by American tech monopolies. And may we one day live in a country where no thirty-something has to ask an intern to explain “it’s giving” ever again.