paul-hanaoka-HbyYFFokvm0-unsplashIt's true of most new things that it takes a while for the problems and kinks to get worked out. It tends to be particularly true when something has exploded overnight, as is wont to happen from time to time with new technologies and platforms. The benefits, the appeal are evident to everyone involved, but there's not as much thought given to what the potential drawbacks might be, or what the worst-case scenarios are in respect to users who are going to violate bounds great or small.

So it is with TikTok, the latest craze for those looking for even shorter videos on the internet. With its success has come scrutiny, as the National Music Publishers’ Association is calling on Congress —in the person of Florida senator Marco Rubio— to look into the app over allegations of copyright theft. While some music publishers have deals with TitTok for licensing of their artists' works, many others do not, and users are undoubtedly not parsing the news to see which artists' tracks are covered in any agreements; it's social media, after all.

The approach from the NMPA comes on the heels of an existing push to look into TikTok, in this case regarding allegations that the Chinese-owned platform is censoring content critical of the Chinese government; while separate and apart from questions of copyright, any such censorship is likely to be viewed more harshly in an American context given the recent harangue between the NBA and the Chinese government.

It might seem a short journey between TikTok's introduction to its becoming the subject of possible congressional oversight, given that most of us over a certain age just heard of TikTok a scant few months ago. But the app has passed over a billion worldwide downloads, meaning that it has the power and reach to matter not only to its fans but to those in power who see the need to check any potential abuses before they become baked into the platform permanently. Censorship is a thornier issue, but where copyright is concerned, trying to stem the issue is likely to create issues unto itself; we only need to look as far as YouTube and its copyright reporting system to see how solutions can be easily weaponized by people looking abuse the system for any number of reasons.

Still, given how we've seen the problems that unchecked social media can create in the world, it's perhaps not a bad thing for TikTok or the next big app after it to have to answer some difficult questions and face some potential repercussions. It may be too late for the platforms already ingratiated into our lives, but we can try to do better the next time.

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