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“As far as TikTok is worried, we’re prohibiting them from the United States,” Trump informed press reporters aboard Air Force One as he returned from Florida.

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Karen North, a teacher of social networks at the University of Southern California informed her 2 teenage kids they might have any app on their phones, with one exception.

That would be the questionable, however hugely popular TikTok, which youths like for making fast, amusing videos, typically set to music.

Her factor: “Because their information is being mined, and the business does not need to comply with our personal privacy laws.”

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese business, and need to the Chinese communist federal government need information be turned over, ByteDance would have no option however to comply, states North.

(TikTok rejects this, and has actually stated consistently that it shops information in the U.S. and Singapore, and includes that if asked by the Chinese federal government to turn over information, that it would not comply.)

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 (Photo: TikTok)

After President Donald Trump at first stated he would would sign an executive order prohibiting the operation of TikTok in the United States, within days, Microsoft stated it would intercede with strategies to purchase the U.S. operations rather. The business wants to finish the offer by September.

Trump stated Thursday he’ll go through with the executive order prohibiting TikTok here if no offer occurs within 45 days.

Meanwhile, parents might be wondering what exactly is the problem with TikTok?

Unlike Facebook and Instagram, you’re free to watch TikTok videos without registering, which means no data collection. However, if you want to create a video and share it, or comment on someone’s video, then you must fork over your personal information, starting with age, phone number and e-mail address.

From there, TikTok freely admits – in the privacy policy on its website – it collects information shared from third-party social network providers, and technical (your location) and behavioral information (what videos you think are funny, how often you watch) “about your use of the Platform. We also collect information contained in the messages you send through our Platform and information from your phone book.”

That’s a lot.

North says that because China has different privacy laws than here, she’s wary about the app. “I would say the same thing about any foreign app,” she says. “Angry Birds is from Finland. How are the privacy laws there?”

Might there be a ban on all apps from China? Besides TikTok, which has reaped over 800 million downloads and currently is the no. 5 most downloaded app on Apptopia’s charts, WeChat, a WhatsApp like communication program, and QQ, which is also used for direct messages, are both owned by China’s Tencent.

In a speech this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said all “untrusted” Chinese apps should be removed from U.S. app stores. “With parent companies based in China, apps like TikTok, WeChat and others are significant threats to the personal data of American citizens,” not to mention tools for content censorship, Pompeo said.

The information collected by TikTok is similar to what’s gathered by Facebook, but security researcher Patrick Jackson, the chief technology officer of security app Disrupt, says Facebook does more ill things with it, simply because it’s so much bigger. Facebook boasts of over 2 billion users. 

“The sheer volume of what’s collected can’t be compared,” he says. “What’s bigger than using your data to influence an election, which Facebook did in 2016,” with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he asks. That’s when users data was tapped by Cambridge for political advertising.

(This week Facebook introduced a TikTok clone for its Instagram app called Reels.)

In an April 2020 blog post, Tik Tok said it was doing everything it could to keep the U.S. data out of Chinese hands. “Our goal is to minimize data access across regions so that, for example, employees in the APAC region, including China, would have very minimal access to user data from the EU and US.” 

But there’s a different between “minimal” and “none.”

Jackson suggests that parents counsel their kids that if they are to use TikTok, only use it to watch videos, so no data can be compiled on them. Additionally, users can opt to have their account be listed as “private,” and only select certain friends to gain viewing access.

And North says that if the Microsoft offer goes through, she’ll be happy to let her kids download the app.

“They own it, they have the information on U.S. servers and follow U.S. laws, and I’m fine with it,” she says.

Microsoft has long been a company that focused on business, with Office 365 software and cloud computing. Online it owns LinkedIn, which fits in with its work-centric mantra, and Skype, which Microsoft tried to transition into more of a business communication device. “Where they need help is with the next generation, young people,” says North. “This could get them there.”

Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter

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