The fact that the American president Trump now wants to ban the social media app TikTok so quickly is a little surprising, and then again not. His just signed executive order orders TikTok to stop its activities in the USA within 45 days. Unless the company is sold to a US company. Microsoft is apparently in negotiations with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance.
The pretext for the alleged danger of TikTok is given with the data collection of the app and some alleged other security related offenses.
Another reason is much more obvious. The TikTok generation – young people – have caused the Twitter president a humiliation that came out of nowhere.
He had been absolutely humiliated at the first election rally since the COVID crisis on June 20 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was to become a triumph for Trump. Instead of the expected one million participants, who had purchased free tickets, not only had the 100,000 people missed out on the outdoor grounds, but also only 6,200 people attended the 19,000-strong event hall.
Trump’s election campaign team had previously boasted of the registrations, which were intended to show that the president’s popularity remained unrestricted. But shortly afterwards it became clear what had happened. Not only had many potential participants stayed away from the event due to the ongoing pandemic and contagion threat, but young TikTok users had organized themselves on the underrated platform and called for mass registration for the Tulsa Rally, only to demonstratively stay away from the event.
Many American parents first learned from their teenagers that they had also been involved when the conversation came up on the news. “Yes mom, I also ordered 4 tickets. All my friends did.”
Trump, who uses Twitter like no other politician and thus owes a considerable part of his victory in 2016 to the platform, has been outmaneuvered by the latest generation with TikTok.
And they use the platform with verve and skill. No talk of young people who are disinterested in politics. With critical and funny short videos, they have created a mass movement for which Trump and his election campaign team were not prepared and can’t do anything. While he dominates Twitter, Russia intervenes in the election campaign via Facebook, TikTok was a little-noticed youth phenomenon.
The shock lasted for more than a month, during which no further rally followed. Instead he is now trying to dispose of this platform by trying to ban it – in the style of autocrats. And this is actually the reason for the efforts of Trump’s government to ban the platform before the elections on November 3rd, in order to sabotage the self-organization of young voters as much as possible.
But he will not succeed. If Microsoft takes over TikTok, there will be no ban, because the official argument of the TikTok security threat would collapse like a house of cards.