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Congress Passes Bill That Could Ban TikTok in the US: Experts Offer Insights on Cyber & Social Media Implications

by | Mar 13, 2024

The House of Representatives passed legislation today that would effectively ban TikTok in the United States.

TikTok

Photo: Damian Dovarganes, AP

In response, Lisa Plaggemier, Executive Director of the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA), offers us her thoughts on the cybersecurity threat TikTok currently poses, and James Mawhinney, CEO of Media.com, provides insights about the effect this ban could have on consumers and the social media industry at large.

Lisa Plaggemier, Executive Director of The National Cybersecurity Alliance

Lisa Plaggemier

Lisa Plaggemier

“TikTok, owned by ByteDance, presents significant cybersecurity concerns for the United States, primarily due to the potential exploitation of its vast user base and the Chinese company’s access to user data. Beyond the immediate privacy implications, there are fears that TikTok could be leveraged as a tool for misinformation campaigns and data collection by foreign actors, particularly the Chinese government. The scale of TikTok’s user engagement, combined with China’s track record of aggressive cyber activities, raises the specter of sophisticated cyber threats targeting American users, including surveillance, data breaches, and manipulation of online discourse,” Plaggemier said.

“Moreover, TikTok’s popularity among both adults and children amplifies the potential impact of these cyber threats, as sensitive personal information could be compromised, and disinformation campaigns could spread rapidly. The platform’s interactive nature and extensive reach make it an attractive target for malicious actors seeking to undermine national security or advance foreign interests. As such, policymakers face the critical task of balancing the benefits of information sharing and social connectivity with the imperative to protect citizens from cyber vulnerabilities inherent in platforms like TikTok. Continued investment in cybersecurity infrastructure and regulations is essential to mitigate these risks and uphold the integrity of digital ecosystems in an increasingly interconnected world.”

James Mawhinney, CEO of Media.com

James Mawhinney

James Mawhinney

“A ban on the platform could disrupt the dissemination of false or misleading information to its vast user base, potentially mitigating the harmful effects of viral misinformation campaigns. However, it’s crucial to recognize that the issues of disinformation and online manipulation are not confined to TikTok alone. Other platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, have grappled with similar challenges, highlighting the need for comprehensive approaches to combating misinformation across the digital landscape,” Mawhinney said.

“Furthermore, a nation-wide ban on TikTok could have ripple effects across the broader social media ecosystem. With TikTok’s absence, users may flock to alternative platforms in search of similar content experiences, potentially amplifying the user base of competing apps. This influx of users could reshape the dynamics of the social media landscape, influencing trends in content creation, user engagement, and platform competition. Additionally, the ban could prompt other social media companies to reevaluate their own data security practices and ties to foreign entities, as scrutiny over tech regulation intensifies.”

Bulldog Reporter
Bulldog Reporter is a leader in media intelligence supplying news, analysis and high-level training content to public relations and corporate communications professionals with the mission of helping these practitioners achieve superior competitive performance.

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