We’ve reached a point in current American society where you really can’t trust anybody anymore as if George Orwell’s “1984” has become a non-fiction book of guidelines.
Unfortunately, we’re seeing these things firsthand. Powerful corporations like Facebook are selling your private data to the highest bidder and they’re only getting a slap on the wrist as a result.
Now we’re finding out the new popular social media app, TikTok, which is effectively the new short video Vine – has connections to China and it has sinister ramifications.
If you’re on social media at all then you’ve probably seen a TikTok video. It’s basically like the now-dismantled Vine application; a short-video Millennials and younger generations utilize trying to be funny with weird video selfies, dancing, singalongs and comedy sketches. That’s pretty much it.
It’s become one of the most popular apps in America in recent months.
But now we’re learning TikTok has strong ties to China. ByteDance or the Beijing ByteDance Technology Company is the company behind the popular video app, which is headquartered in Beijing, China.
Censorship seems to be a growing concern for the Beijing-based company and it would be unsurprising to learn that the People’s Republic of China could be the main reason why. That’s because videos of the pro-Democracy riots in Hong Kong have been censored off the app.
When the Washington Post reached out to ByteDance for comment about policing the app with censorship, they declined to comment about its “purported independence from censors in Beijing.” But then they did an odd thing. On the app, the company claimed it was a “place for entertainment, not politics.” Officials at the Chinese Embassy also declined to comment.
But could China be using TikTok for a much more sinister agenda?
According to the Washington Post, “researchers have grown worried that the app could also prove to be one of China’s most effective weapons in the global information war, bringing Chinese-style censorship to mainstream U.S. audiences and shaping how they understand real-world events. Compounding researchers’ concerns are TikTok’s limited public comments about the content it removes and its purported independence from censors in Beijing.”
Essentially, ByteDance is storing its clients information domestically, which is a narrative we’ve heard many times recently in America. For example, Facebook is notorious for ignoring misinformation campaigns on the social media network. It literally happened just this week and then CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended his company’s stance on the policy.
Yaqiu Wang, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, claims the Hong Kong protests marked one of the first big tests of how Chinese companies could project the government’s position internationally. In the last few weeks, the NBA, video game companies and movie studios have bent over backwards for Chinese censors.
NBA arenas have been confiscating “Free Hong Kong” shirts and signs from the fans during the preseason. Some fans are being ejected too.
Wang said of the government’s control, “They are making the commercial media repost or reproduce what has been produced by state media. And they are forcing censorship to create a narrative in the sense that this is not what happened. For Chinese companies, the government has so much control. You have no choice. If it’s politically sensitive, your company is in jeopardy.”
TikTok’s enormous popularity and lack of transparency is a bigger problem that should be taken more seriously because America doesn’t exactly have any legal recourse.