Is it TikTok, equally addictive and destructive as the drug FENTANYL?

Is it TikTok, equally addictive and destructive as the drug FENTANYL?

By julianapardogonzalez

The incoming US chairperson of a new House select committee on China, Mike Gallagher, described TikTok as ‘digital fentanyl’ in reference to the addictive opioid painkiller. Gallagher, wants TikTok banned in the US, he said the app is ‘highly addictive and destructive’.  

Eight out of ten people consider social networks to be addictive. This is the result of a survey conducted by Passport-Photo on more than 1,000 people, which concludes that the dopamine generated by social networks leads us to make excessive use of them

Concerns among US politicians

All this, because there are concerns among US politicians that the Chinese government could use the app to track Americans, censor content and promote Chinese narratives. 

During NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ In an interview aired in the US on Sunday, January 1. Gallagher spoke about the social media TikTok.  Among some of his comments are, ‘It’s highly addictive and destructive, and we’re seeing troubling data about the corrosive impact of constant social media use, particularly on young men and women here in America,’ or ‘The government can’t raise your kids, can’t protect your kids for you, but there are certain sensible things we can do in order to create a healthier social media ecosystem.’ 

But the real question is, do they have problems with TikTok because of its additivity or because it is Chinese? Because even though the other social networks may be less addictive, they are still addictive and if we look at the popularity charts, most of them are American. 

The most popular Social Media

According to a Hootsuite study, the most popular network is WhatsApp, used by 91% of Internet users between 16 and 64 years old, followed by Facebook and Instagram, used by 73.3% and 71.7% of Internet users, respectively. Following in the ranking of the most popular are YouTube (66%), Twitter (46%), Telegram (31%), TikTok (30%) and LinkedIn (23%). 

In January 2022, the United States was the country with the largest TikTok audience in the world, with some 136.5 million users. It was followed by Indonesia and Brazil, with about 99 million and 74 million users, respectively. 

It is an application born in China from the hand of the company ByteDance, which has managed to merge the best of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and has managed to generate new social-digital trends and become one of the mobile applications with the highest number of downloads in recent months. In fact, in the first quarter of 2022, it was the most downloaded app in the world. Although, it does not move to Europe, where according to the App Store, the first position in terms of downloads is held by WhatsApp and the second by TikTok. 

TikTok has already been banned

The company, owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance, has already been banned from all devices owned and managed by the US House of Representatives. But US chairperson of House select committee on China wants to expand that ban nationally. Because, Gallagher is concerned about the Chinese government ‘effectively compiling dossiers filled with the Americans data’. 

Gallagher also has an issue with ‘the lack of transparency’ around TikTok’s algorithm, which he said is ‘addicting kids’. Making questions like What if they start censoring the news, right? What if they start tweaking the algorithm to determine what the CCP deems fit to print.’ 

As an answer, a TikTok spokesperson said in response that there is ‘zero truth’ to Gallagher’s comments and that the CCP ‘has neither direct nor indirect control of ByteDance or TikTok’.  

‘We welcome the opportunity to brief members of Congress, including Rep. Gallagher, on the basics of our corporate structure and our comprehensive plan to address national security concerns about TikTok in the United States.’ 

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