What the debate over TikTok means for the future of social media

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It has been an eventful few months for TikTok: The social media platform recently won an injunction against a nationwide ban while it negotiates a deal with Oracle and Walmart to satisfy President Trump’s executive orders demanding a sale to a U.S. company. With the November deadline for a deal upcoming, the shifting contours of the transaction and concerns over the app’s security will have important ramifications for future technology policy.

The TikTok app has consistently topped worldwide download charts and recently celebrated the best quarter of downloads in app history. Yet this very popularity fueled concerns about data security and potential foreign espionage from China, where TikTok’s current parent company ByteDance is located. Though some TikTok users have speculated that the executive orders have been in retaliation to the platform’s role in organizing opposition to Trump’s reelection campaign, the app has been under national security review since 2019 due to its rising influence in the U.S., which suggests several overlapping motivations.
Other social media platforms have benefitted from the pandemonium surrounding TikTok’s current legal challenges, lessening the focus on their own products and services and attracting TikTok users. But the perceived political …

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