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November 3, 2022

A TikTok-ing Time Bomb

The social media app TikTok is Chinese spyware that’s giving aid to the enemy.

TikTok has long been a threat to the American people and U.S. intelligence agencies. The video sharing app is staffed by 300 former Chinese state media workers and has direct ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It was such an obvious security risk that former President Donald Trump tried to ban it with an executive order, which was then overturned by President Joe Biden — who has known sympathies with China.

TikTok is used by its parent company, the Beijing-based ByteDance, to data-mine and collect biometric and location data. In other words, TikTok/ByteDance/Beijing spy on the United States and its citizens. Ergo, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Brendan Carr is now calling for its banning. Carr believes that there isn’t “a world in which you could come up with sufficient protection on the data that you could have sufficient confidence that it’s not finding its way back into the hands of the [Chinese Communist Party].”

Carr, a Republican, is not alone in his concerns. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, a Democrat, also voiced the opinion that President Trump was right in his attempt to excise the app from U.S. digital space.

TikTok is currently in negotiations with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to try to work out a way for the app to become separate from its parent company. This is what prompted Carr to voice his concerns because even divestment isn’t enough to keep Americans safe from undue Chinese influence and interference. A spokesperson for TikTok criticized Carr, saying: “Commissioner Carr has no role in the confidential discussions with the U.S. government related to TikTok and appears to be expressing views independent of his role as an FCC commissioner. We are confident that we are on a path to reaching an agreement with the US Government that will satisfy all reasonable national security concerns.”

During the most recent Beijing Olympics, when the U.S. was considering a diplomatic boycott, Anna Massoglia, an investigative researcher, revealed that the CCP “hired a firm to recruit social media influencers in a new digital propaganda campaign targeting the U.S. amid controversy over diplomatic boycotts of the 2022 Beijing Olympics & censorship of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai’s disappearance.” In other words, a foreign government, one that is largely regarded as our greatest rival, hired influencers to spread its propaganda.

That manipulation by the CCP was overt, but its influence is generally more subtle than that. Because of the way TikTok is set up here in the U.S., influencers are rewarded for creating the dumbest, shallowest, and most sordid videos. It’s all part of the plan. The CCP wants to make American cultural influencers dumb, shallow, and sordid. It wants to corrupt our culture. It can do it, too, because the main users of TikTok are teens and young adults who are easily manipulated.

In China, ByteDance runs a version of TikTok called Douyin. It is night and day different from the American version. The algorithms that promote content and make videos go viral reward users for posting videos that actually benefit society. So videos of engineering, history, culture, and beauty are celebrated and promoted. Not only that, but China seriously limits the amount of time users can spend on the app. A far cry from our endless scrolling.

The U.S. should follow through with a ban. Anything less is negligence. The ban would affect 94.1 million U.S.-based TikTok users — 94.1 million Americans who are either blithely or brazenly ignoring the risks to their own safety. If the U.S. does extricate itself from this spyware, it would join countries like India and possibly cleanse the cultural contamination that TikTok has been allowed to spread.

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