The TikTok application, owned by the Chinese company, ByteDance, is one of the most popular and widespread social networking applications, and according to author Ezra Klein in an article in The New York Times, despite the age of Tik Tok. At just a few years old, his growth “is unlike anything we’ve seen before”.
The author explains that in 2021, “Tik Tok” had more active users than Twitter, more US viewing minutes than YouTube, more apps downloaded from Facebook, more visits to the site than Google, and most college students prefer it more than others to to browse. the news.
The author goes on to introduce Tik Tok by saying that this application is owned by a Chinese company, and “Chinese companies are subject to the whims and will of their country’s government.”
He adds that in August 2020, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order demanding that Tik Tok sell himself to a US company or be banned in the United States. Byte Dance was looking for a buyer by the fall, and Oracle and Walmart were the most likely candidates, but after President Joe Biden’s election victory, the sale was postponed.
In June, Biden replaced Trump’s executive order, which was written “dirty” and successfully challenged in court, with a Biden order.
The problem with “Tik Tok” with America – as defined by Biden’s command – is that similar applications can access a wide range of user information, including personal information of Americans and their own business information, and this data collection threatens to access foreign adversaries. give to that information.
“Let’s call it the data espionage problem,” Klein said. “Applications like TikTok collect data from users.”
These data can be valuable to foreign governments; That’s why the military and navy have banned the use of “Tik Tok” in soldiers’ work phones, and Senator Josh Hawley has introduced a bill to ban it on all government agencies.
Klein added that the U.S. government has prepared a plan to host data for U.S. customers on its servers, and to somehow restrict the parent company’s access.
While this order addresses concerns about the Chinese government’s access to Americans’ personal information, it does not address other ways in which China may arm the platform, such as amending TikTok algorithms to increase exposure to divisive content, changing the platform to unlock or encourage disinformation campaigns, according to the article.
The author calls it the “manipulation problem”; The real power of Tik Tok does not lie in our “data”, but rather in what “users look at and create, and the dark algorithm that controls what is seen and what is implied.”
According to Klein, “Tik Tok” was filled with videos supporting the Russian version of the war in Ukraine.
Media Matters, for example, has a seemingly coordinated campaign followed by 186 Russian TikTok influencers posting typical beauty tips, fake videos and light material.
The author believes that the Chinese Communist Party may decide to change how the algorithm handles these videos to amplify Russian propaganda around the world.
The author asks, “How comfortable would we be with a similar situation in 5 years? When Tik Tok is more firmly established in the lives of Americans and the application has the freedom you may not feel today to work as it pleases ? “
In his article, he adds, “We know that guidelines for moderating TikTok content have been tightened on videos and topics at the request of the Chinese government, although TikTok says the rules have changed since then. We know that other foreign countries have social media use networks. ” America to fuel division and suspicion.
He believes that TikTok’s 1 billion users do not view the Chinese government’s propaganda as it usually does.
They watch make-up lessons, recipes and videos of funny dances, but this is exactly what will make “Tik Tok” a more powerful application for propaganda, and it will be very easy to use it to shape or distort public opinion, and to do so quietly and perhaps without a trace, according to the author.
Klein proposed what he calls a simple but difficult-to-apply principle: “Collective interests matter, and who controls and who controls it will largely control the future of society.”
So the social media platforms that occupy and shape the attention of society need to be controlled, for the better.