Fear that the app is sharing users’ information with the Chinese government has led President Trump to try banning TikTok in the U.S.
PORTLAND, Oregon — In the age of smart phones, the U.S. has never outright banned an app, but that could soon change. President Trump is one step closer to banning TikTok, fearing the company is leaking user information to the Chinese Government.
TikTok has about 800 million users worldwide. The app is popular for making videos of everything from goofy dances to business marketing. Bri Bender Martin uses TikTok to boost her small business, Babe City Studio, a boudoir photography business in Bend.
“I think the point of boudoir photography is to help show women how amazing they are,” said Bender Martin, who opened her studio about a year ago.
“I got on TikTok during quarantine and really didn’t know what I was doing,” she said.
Not long after opening her account, Bender Martin posted a simple video on TikTok inviting people to learn more about her businesses. It went viral. Suddenly, Bender Martin said she went from getting around 20 inquiries a month to almost 400. She’s now booked for the year.
“I was freaking out,” said Bender Martin. “I was like, ‘I don’t know how to contact this many people!’ It was a good problem to have, though.”
Bender Martin quickly amassed more than 20,000 followers on her TikTok account where she posts photos, posing tips and client experiences. All of it would disappear if the U.S. bans TikTok.
TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, is a Chinese internet company. U.S. federal officials worry the Chinese government can access videos and personal information that Americans put on the app. President Trump signed an executive order banning TikTok unless a U.S. company buys it by mid-September. A TikTok spokesperson says the company stores its data in the U.S. and has “strict controls on employee access to information.” Still, at this point we can’t verify whether or not TikTok is sharing data with the Chinese government because ByteDance is a private company.
“Obviously I’m bummed because it’s helped my small business a lot,” said Bender Martin. “I know it’s helped tons of small businesses.”
Bender Martin is optimistic that an American company will buy TikTok. In the meantime, she has no plans to delete her account.
“I signed up for it willingly and clearly it’s benefiting me,” said Bender Martin. “I’m on the internet, I assume I’m being watched.”