China’s TikTok Blazes New Ground. That Could Doom It.

from NYTs

American leaders have effectively thrown Huawei and a handful of Chinese surveillance technology companies out of the country, warning darkly of the national security and privacy threats of installing Made-in-China products into sensitive parts of the nation’s electronic infrastructure.

Now they have cast their fearful gaze on a new Chinese target: the dancing and singing teens and tweens of TikTok.

A secretive federal panel with a national security focus is reviewing the purchase of TikTok two years ago by a Chinese company called Bytedance, The New York Times and othersreported last week. Three senators have asked the Trump administration to review potential national security and privacy threats posed by the app, warning that Bytedance could strip out content that displeases the Communist Party, such as videos of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

TikTok denies that it censors political content. Videos supporting the protesters and declaring “Reclaim Hong Kong!” can be found on the app.

More here.

, , , , ,

26 Responses to China’s TikTok Blazes New Ground. That Could Doom It.

  1. Joe Antonucci November 8, 2019 at 5:29 pm #

    By now it’s become painfully obvious to me (and others) that change is not always good. We have seemingly been programmed to cheer as new technology comes out, but this new age is bringing many complicated consequences to our front doors.

    The TikTok situation should hit close to home as it disproportionately involves our youth. TikTok is popular among teens but even children are using it. All of my young cousins (as young as 7) are on the app and post regularly.

    The problem arises when we consider that TikTok is based in China. Though most of the concerns about TikTok acting as an arm of the communist Chinese surveillance apparatus are not backed by hard evidence, the concern may arise with different companies in the future.

    We know that the Internet has largely been a free place because many of the most popular websites were based in the United States. This has been called into question by China’s economic growth and subsequent rise to prominence on the Internet.

    The golden question is, which country will be dominant on the Internet? American companies maintaining control would obviously be preferable to Chinese companies that are required to censor content.

    I saw a video just last week of a Chinese woman being arrested in her own home for apparently posting inflammatory content on social media. Now, I won’t say that American companies are doing a great job protecting dissenting speech. In fact, they’re quite awful. But, the worst that can happen to anyone posting content further right than Hillary Clinton is the inconvenience of being deplatformed. Of course, this problem is getting worse, with political commentator Stefan Molyneux being banned from PayPal, among others [1].

    In any case, we have the First Amendment and free speech is at least partially respected in the United States. Countries like China are not even democratically lead, so if they gained dominance on the Internet in the following decades, it would not bode well for the rest of the world that is used to enjoying a largely free and open Internet.

    TikTok represents a massive success by a Chinese company, with hundreds of millions of their users being in the United States. As the article states, TikTok claims it wouldn’t comply with a Chinese government request to censor content, but other companies that are sure to follow may not be so resilient.

    Other examples of this issue not related to the Internet are obvious to viewers of the NBA, where characters such as Lebron James have outed themselves as Chinese puppets who oppose free speech.

    [1] https://www.newsweek.com/alt-right-youtuber-cut-off-paypal-donations-1469936

  2. Shamar K November 8, 2019 at 6:54 pm #

    Before reading this article, I had no idea TikTok was bought by a Chinese technology company. With that being said, I don’t buy into the ultimate concern that it has influence on the political decisions of the consumers. TikTok, in my opinion, is just another platform for people to post whatever content that they choose to post. There are more influential apps such as Twitter and Facebook that have much more power in swaying the opinions of the user. I believe that America, just like the article states, is just afraid of a company like ByteDance having such an exponential growth. They have the potential to compete with the likes of Facebook which is a significant statistic. Although I see TikTok as a harmless app, I do see the concern of it being the first social media platform based solely from China. The app has been doing crazy numbers online with over 1.5 billion downloads and 122 million of those being in America. Tik Tok claims that all of their American users’ data are stored locally in America. Whether that statement is true or not, the fact that our data can potentially being backed up and stored on Chinese servers and networks can be a concern. The access to receive this data back can be very difficult and the loops and boundaries that we have no knowledge of regarding their legal system and how they govern apps and technology. I do like the feature included in a lot of Bytedance’s apps that involves the limiting of use of the app with set times. All in all TikTok, to me is just another fad. There is no real substance behind the app and is mostly made for silly dancing videos and meme creation. Even if they were to move toward a more serious approach and start implementing real world content and news worthy information, I feel like they would just flop. I myself have downloaded TikTok and after a few days I deleted it. There is not enough substance there for me and I feel that people will start realize the same.

  3. Corinne Roonan November 11, 2019 at 1:02 pm #

    Having written a previous comment about the issues with TikTok’s ownership falling to a Chinese company, I felt like I already knew enough about this topic. After reading this, though, I realized that really, there is so much to learn about this as it continues to grow and change as a part of society. This application, as the comments before me state, have a very large affect on young people in the United States, which causes privacy and data issues because of the tense relationship between China and the United States that currently exists. Unlike Shamar, though, I do not think TikTok is going away any time soon. People love it, have used it as a creative outlet, and are making money on content posted on the application. This is becoming as central to our society as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Vine (R.I.P.). It is only now on the rise. What does this mean for the United States and users in countries with tense relationships with China?
    Well, it means there are precautions that should be taken. The app should not be able to work in the backround, the app should not be used to post controversial information, and the app should not be given important information. While these steps are not totally going to fix the issue, these are beginning steps that could be used to prevent future issues relating to the privacy and data of users given to a Chinese company.

  4. Mikaela Battaglia November 11, 2019 at 7:27 pm #

    This past weekend I went home to see my family and a few of my friends who also came home this weekend. My best friend, Liz, goes to Penn State and came back telling me and my other friends about TikTok and how funny the videos were, and how she was addicted to watching them. Much like the popular app Vine (RIP), it is a social media platform where users can post short videos of whatever they please, in hopes to gain more followers and popularity. However, the entire time she was talking about TikTok all I could think about was how it was a Chinese ran social media app, unlike many of the other common ones used by people my age today like Snapchat or Instagram, and by using the app there could be possible repercussions.
    China’s strict rules about what is allowed to be run on their servers and soon the new implementation of nothing being hidden from the government, could cause problems for the app. As the article states, TikTok seems very sketchy about the ability to post about the politics in Hong Kong, and many are unsure if they have ties to the Chinese government. It also all comes down to user’s data. By using the Chinese run app, Americans are giving them insight into our search habits etc. that they could in turn use against us in some way. Also, towards the end of the article it states that Bytedance and other start-ups got in trouble for having crude and vulgar content within their app. The TikToks my friend was showing me were based off of the show Victorious that has recently been added onto Netflix, and many of them were very inappropriate as well. So even though TikTok is so successful, I wonder I the government will punish them as well for streaming content that does not coincide with their core values.
    In general, I think it is troublesome to the US to see such a popular and influential app like TikTok become so powerful in the world of social media solely because it is a Chinese based app. The US and China do not have similar privacy protection laws or standards at all, and I see that being an issue for the app in the future, and also China and US technological relations.

  5. Nick L November 14, 2019 at 10:47 am #

    There are a few concerns I have with TikTok being owned by a Chinese Company. There are many teenagers using this app that are mainly in grade school through high school. There is no specific age for how old you have to be to use the app. This would concern me as a parent of my child that is posting videos of themselves dancing. Having access to the videos and the data that the teenagers are posting on it is also concerning. I like the privacy and security threats being investigated because there is a lot to dive into. TikTok says information is stored in America but I do not believe that to be true. TikTok reports that it will take down content about the Hong Kong protest. This is to preserve their image most likely from the outside world. With 122 million downloads in the United States this is a lot of data they have access to. What exactly they are doing with the data from the 122 million downloads is not clear yet. Apps have been known go way too far with the data they have access to when you agree to download the app.
    Social media platforms have been known not to be safe in general. Knowing about all the security concerns revolving around Facebook is equally as concerning as TikTok. It is starting to get to the point to where there needs to be federal regulations on social networking platforms. There have been enough leaks and data breaches that this needs to be done. Especially when we are talking about young kids with smartphones that have the ability to make in-app purchases. Using their parents credit card to make purchases and then taking advantage of teenagers data. We are starting to see a trend where the United States is kicking out any Chinese owned companies that are doing well economically. First it was Huawei and now TikTok seems to be teetering that line. Chinese automakers will start to make their debut in the United States soon. Which makes me believe that many people will be skeptical at first. Only time will tell, I would like to see more regulations for apps and consumer trading from China to the United States.

  6. Victoria Balka November 14, 2019 at 11:50 am #

    With this being the second article I have read about the possible dangers of TikTok, I am able to say that the app may be a risk not worth taking. Since the United State’s government does not trust this app because the communist may be choosing what people can see, the Chinese can be using it for propaganda, and it may be storing everyone’s data. The things that people are worried this app is doing are extreme and can greatly impact our lives. For instance, if the Chinese government has access to all of your personal data after creating an account, they can use that for their country’s own good if there were to be a major conflict with America. Also, if the communist are censoring the app to only show videos that promote what they believe in, it can cause a huge impact on the political climate of the United States since all of the young people are suddenly believing in communist ideas without even realizing it. Lastly, if they were found using the app for propaganda, this can cause more impacts on the United States political climate since it can be impacting elections and who people vote for, just like they think Facebook did for the last election.
    While I believe the United States government may be targeting this app a little too much since they have no proof it is doing what they are accusing, I believe they should still investigate the true intentions of this app and the company behind it. With the world being as fragile as it is today, it is important that the government tries to protect its citizens and all of their personal data, which may mean removing this app from the country if it puts people’s private data at risk. Since this app is being mostly downloaded by teenagers, they do not fully understand what they are potentially giving up when they created the account and agreed to the terms of service. This can cause a huge problem since they may be giving up all of their information without realizing it to the Chinese government. The United States government needs to look more into this app and determine if it is safe for Americans to have on their phones.

  7. Tyler Abline November 14, 2019 at 1:25 pm #

    China’s censorship firewall is arguably more prevalent than their Great Wall in today’s world. China is the world leader in censorship, which goes against the basis of American values. The fact that a Chinese company owns a social media app as popular as Tik Tok is alarming. We are already seeing China exert it’s influence over freedom of speech in the United States in areas such as the NBA and various video games such as the recent controversy surrounding Blizzard. Blizzard has been banning players who voice pro Hong Kong sentiments on their platform while the NBA is being strong-armed into silence about the protests in Hong Kong. Big voices in the NBA such as LeBron James have shown that they fear China’s wrath more than they cherish American free speech. While NBA commissioner Adam Silver has expressed the league’s desire to defend the freedom of speech of it’s players, the economic leverage that China is attempting to enforce over the NBA is reprehensible. This issue extends far beyond Tik Tok, or video games, or even the NBA. The Hong Kong protests are a stark reminder that China is not in favor of freedom of speech or democracy, and for a Chinese company to be in charge of an outlet for Americans to express themselves is cause for concern. While it is a good sign that Tik Tok has not been taking down pro Hong Kong sentiments, a watchful eye needs to be kept on the app to ensure that China does not infringe on American rights and values on it.

  8. Alexander Nowik November 15, 2019 at 4:03 pm #

    To me this is yet another example of the difficulties companies are having with appeasing the Chinese government. Last month we saw the NBA and Blizzard entertainment both struggling to find solutions to the same problem. China is the worlds largest market (purely numbers-wise) and asserts its economical and political power over many corporations. One thing that I think makes TikTok a bit different from other social media apps is its audience being very young. On the one hand if TikTok were to begin promoting pro-CCP content, it’s young affluent audience might be influenced. On the other hand however, the only way there would really be pro-CCP content in the first place would be if younger chinese citizens made said content. It’s unlikely a government official or even a company higher-up could imitate the type of content a young person would enjoy, respect or connect with. However, I can appreciate the cautiousness of this article, because even though (as it points out) TikTok does not currently censor pro Hong Kong material, the chance of that staying the norm seems unlikely, as China has provably forced other companies to take a restrictive stance when it comes to any anti-CCP sentiment. The U.S. government possibly banning the app is just the icing on the cake in this scenario, as I think currently that would be a extreme action for them to take, considering the app has not done anything but be a social media where young teens can share “silly videos”.

  9. Walter Dingwall November 22, 2019 at 12:13 pm #

    China is generally appearing to be an isolationist country is the news. This makes its massive economic growth, compared to the U.S., unusual. Something else that is unusual is that such a country would develop of the most popular social media platforms globally – TikTok. By administrating this app with great success into the countries that it tends to be at odds with in so many other fields, there should be actions taken by said countries to return the favors of China. The U.S. has restricted Huawei products and other Chinese surveillance services, as Li Yuan mentions in her New York Times article, to avail.
    China’s recent policies to give the government power to collect any data that enters Chinese systems at its own will should incline countries, who’s data will be subject to such a policy, to strictly protect their selves from apps like TikTok. This comes at what would generally be a miniscule loss of comfort through technology for the risk of data security that TikTok is a vehicle of.
    However, the lenience of the app may have something to do with its claimed resistance to turnover the control of content to the government, which would come in the form of removing progressive, liberal content that would be detectable as being against the mainland, against the Government. By holding these alleged principles, TikTok can run as a product that is to do with the western ideals of expression and, in some cases, freedoms.
    In some way or another, it does appear that the Chinese government will be the end of TikTok. If the app’s demise comes from China’s policy on data collection, it will have come with the non-Chinese nations’ withdrawal due to the data security risks that come from allowing Chinese software to collect data and store it on Chinese systems, in the most harmful crosshairs. If the Chinese government decides to come down on the app to prevent users from seeing content that would put China’s current government in a negative light, this could also be TikTok’s end, as the creator may shut it down, or the users will avoid it for this act.

  10. Alyssa Lackland November 23, 2019 at 2:34 pm #

    While I do understand that there are concerns revolving around China censoring non-Chinese citizens’ content on Tik Tok due to that content not being “in line with the Chinese Government and Communist Party directives”, there is more to think about. Indeed, China has no right to censor US citizens’ online content, due to the US Constitutions’ 1st amendment declaring US citizens freedom of speech. Moreover, with the recent trade disputes between the US and China, it seems like the US should be increasingly wary about what “Made in China” products we allow in our country- especially on the internet where breaches happen so often/our national security can be so easily compromised. As discussed in both TID’s 2 and 3, I believe that the solution to this problem lies within enacting a greater volume of federal laws/regulations within the world of online contracts and online privacy. If said legislation is not quickly enacted, then the US should be more careful about what companies we sell our internet services to. As I conducted more research on TikTok being bought by ByteDance- a Chinese internet technology company- I skimmed through their terms of service contract. It has a section which states:

    “We reserve the right, at any time and without prior notice, to remove or disable access to content at our discretion for any reason or no reason. Some of the reasons we may remove or disable access to content may include finding the content objectionable, in violation of these Terms or our Community Policy, or otherwise harmful to the Services or our users. Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.”

    TikTok has adequately informed it’s users (regardless of where they live) that they do obtain the right to remove content “for any reason or no reason”. This goes back to the classes long discussions on whether or not users should be able to fight for their personal data rights in the world of online contracts- in this case, the contract was made by a company located overseas. Hence, it will be monitored according to Chinese values and laws- and this is truly where the issue lies. As countries are globalizing more and more due to greater online presence, what laws should be enacted to bring each nation justice?

  11. Daniel J Cambronero December 6, 2019 at 3:49 pm #

    Tik Tok is a new, up and coming social media application among younger smartphone users and I myself am one of those users.

    The way the application works is similar to most other social media platforms, you scroll up and down to go through your feed however, Tik Tok is a platform of short videos that are often mashed up with popular songs as well as videos of pop culture references. You can follow other users you enjoy and using a mix of posts you have liked and users you follow, the application uses an algorithm that predicts other Tik Tok videos you would enjoy. As I was on the application the other day I thought about this algorithm and how Tik Tok collects data about you however, instead of the usual data that is being collected on you such as your name, items you’ve looked up and such, the data being harvested is videos you enjoy watching. The data being collected is literally what is your personality type and it is accurate enough to the point where the suggested videos they show are almost all of the time enjoyable for the user. This started to scare me a bit because with the world entering a new era of technology and data, I would like to keep my data secure, especially data that literally contains my likes and interests. However, I also started to think about what other companies who work in similar fashions and I realized that YouTube does the same thing except YouTube has been around collecting data since 2005… Another thing I took into account while reading this article was that YouTube is an American based company so at least my data isn’t roaming around a foreign country however, Tik Tok is a Chinese based application which raises more problems. One of which is, the data being accumulated about me could later on be used against me in the form of politically charged videos that China is using to sway my vote which would not be surprising being that foreign countries have been trying to influence American elections dating back since the Cold War so it’s no surprise that a country the U.S. has been butting head to head with recently, may use data of younger voters to sway elections.

  12. Jessica Romero December 6, 2019 at 9:05 pm #

    TikTok is the hottest app right now especially for the younger demographic. TikTok seems to be the new vine, there trendy short videos used for entertainment. This app being newer on the market as picked up a tremendous amount of buzz and doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. Will I think it will survive and stick around like Instagram and Twitter? Absolutely not. It is one of those fads just like Vine, it’s for mere entertainment and after you’re done with it you’re ready for the next best thing. TikTok like most apps collect our data within what we like, we search up and then some. Similar to Instagram, if we like something about fashion we see more of those things on our timeline, or even advertisements for fashion brands. The main concern I have for this app is that the younger crowd roughly are in middle school if not in high school and their data is exposed internationally. TikTok has a right to remove content for any or no reason which is completely unfair and is extremely vague. I’ve had friends post of videos of themselves, it is very appropriate and for whatever reason TikTok said it violated their policies, but they didn’t say what exactly it was they were violating. All in all, TikTok should be more specific about their rules and regulations before allowing users to go on this app.

  13. Noelle Arrighi December 9, 2019 at 12:07 pm #

    Prior to 2018, “Tik Tok” was nothing but a poorly spelt overplayed pop song from 2009, now it could potentially be the factor that gives China an advantage in the proxy conflict between the United States. Although, the United States is an international superpower, China is the country that could be threatening to the United States’ relative position in the international system, therefore, America cannot take any risks when it comes to the communist country’s economic presence. This is especially dangerous because the primary generation on TikTok is young users who are more likely to be careless when online. Although, TikTok requires their users to be at least thirteen years of age to create an account, many lie and even teenagers are known to be irresponsible online. It is all too easy for a teenager to agree or say yes to something just to make it go away without fully understanding the repercussions of what they have done. With one frustrated click a child could sign away the rights to their Apple account which would include their family’s credit card and passwords. This is an age old problem outside of TikTok, however the repercussions become even more severe when China, one of the few countries that has the potential to tip the international system out of favor of the United States, is involved. According to Quartz’s David Caroll, when TikTok was at its prime in late 2018, there was a section in their private policy that stated, user data could be shared with any member or affiliate of [its] group, which exists in China. A later statement came out correcting this, however the actions of the past remained unchanged, confirming that data from TikTok users who joined the service before February 2019 may have been processed in China (Savitsky). TikTok has confirmed the Chinese government does not have access to their users’ data, this does not mean that they will not do the same thing with another app to find out information that would threaten the security of the United States or infringe on people’s privacy. Frequently, stories of apps using users information in a way that they did not know, for instance, the app that makes people look like they are senior citizens was rumored to have been using the pictures of people for their own use. The United States needs to be extremely cautious about this because this is something that could easily happen under the noses of those in power and China will only admit to it if they are caught.

  14. Erin Shaklee January 24, 2020 at 8:15 pm #

    Shane Savitsky article “ TikTok is China’s next big weapon”, explains the dangers Americans may face using the app. He explains how TikTok’s parent company first introduced itself as an “artificial intelligence company” in china. He also explains how it has the potential to obtain secure American data simply from its users. This information causes alarm to me; As a TikTok user, I spend hours wasting my time looking at random videos to entertain me. With this new discovery, I will need to reconsider what information about myself I choose to share on the app.
    The issue with that users will face using the app is that Chinese government and business can use their information to sell and make a profit, use against the U.S or even worse. Previously, the Chinese have taken intellectual property such as patents and trademarks, and used it to generate their own. Though TikTok claims they are independent from the Chinese as of 2018, Saviksky explains that users who joined before that are at risk of having their personal data given to Bytedance, the parent company of TikTok. Beyond this, it is a leap of faith to believe that TikTok is completely independent of its original purpose. People enter the software without contemplating the wide range of effects that the data that they post can be used for. Users are under the impression that they are using the software for one thing, while the Chinese may have completely different motives. It is questionable to assume that the Chinese citizens have unregulated access to the internet. If they are willing to spy on their own society, why wouldn’t they spy on us.
    Most people, including myself will never know the amount of their personal data that is retrievable to other people. With this in mind, TikTok has created a platform to allow unsuspecting people to reveal their facial and personal information without knowing the consequences. It is hard to put blame on one party specifically; the Chinese creators who formed the artificial intelligence software, the current owner of TikTok being aware of the concerns with the platform, or the users who were not cautious when joining the platform.

  15. Felipe Salas January 24, 2020 at 9:24 pm #

    Tik Tok has become one of the most popular social media platforms. As a frequent user of said platform, I have been aware of the many speculations that have emerged regarding the app’s algorithm. It seems logical that the app, being the property of a Chinese company, will have various restrictions as a result of the harsh law enforced by the Chinese government, which is known for censorship of the media and oppression of the public for political hegemony. However, this app has users all over the world. This makes it difficult to filter all the content posted. Aside from content that violates community guidelines common to all social media platforms, TikTok sometimes seems to target certain types of content for their removal. Many times this content being of political nature. The owner of the app stating denying censorship of political content does not assure us that that is actually true. Considering Facebook’s controversy of privacy violations, digital platforms can never be completely trusted. On one occasion, I posted a video of political nature to my TikTok account to test the censorship presumptions. Eventually, the video that I posted, which contained information about US politics, was removed. I believe that this app seeks to limit the content posted by its users to be solely for entertainment. Censorship more than a violation of freedom of speech is a conservative strategy adopted by the app to avoid any legal issues that could arise in conflict with the government that encompasses the company that owns it.

  16. Felipe Salas January 24, 2020 at 9:25 pm #

    Tik Tok has become one of the most popular social media platforms. As a frequent user of said platform, I have been aware of the many speculations that have emerged regarding the app’s algorithm. It seems logical that the app, being the property of a Chinese company, will have various restrictions as a result of the harsh law enforced by the Chinese government, which is known for censorship of the media and oppression of the public for political hegemony. However, this app has users all over the world. This makes it difficult to filter all the content posted. Aside from content that violates community guidelines common to all social media platforms, TikTok sometimes seems to target certain types of content for their removal. Many times this content being of political nature. The owner of the app stating denying censorship of political content does not assure us that that is actually true. Considering Facebook’s controversy of privacy violations, digital platforms can never be completely trusted. On one occasion, I posted a video of political nature to my TikTok account to test the censorship presumptions. Eventually, the video that I posted, which contained information about US politics, was removed. I believe that this app seeks to limit the content posted by its users to be solely for entertainment. Censorship more than a violation of freedom of speech is a conservative strategy adopted by the app to avoid any legal issues that could arise in conflict with the government that encompasses the company that owns it.

  17. Julia Garlock January 31, 2020 at 6:51 pm #

    In the age of media ruling the social and political atmosphere, having the political freedom to express opinions on widely known platforms is very important. As a teenage girl living in a country founded on having individual freedom it is a foreign concept for me to imagine not being aloud to post certain topics out of fear from the government. I use tik tok regularly whether it is to make funny videos or watch what other people post to pass time and stay in on the current social trends. When I am on tik tok however I have never noticed any videos uriging users to feel a certain way on anything politically related, or anyone trying to bring awareness to what is happening in Beijing. Although the board of directors of tik tok are saying local videos in America show first and that they do not take orders from the government it seems like a half truth. The students and fellow community members in Beijing are fighting for these freedoms and in return the government destroys buildings, open fire on civilians, blockade roads, and use tear gas to hurt protestors who don’t surrender their posts to police. With this information it becomes hard for me to imagine that the government does not monitor the videos that tik tok would feature on its for you page considering China helps tik tok maintain being a blossoming international app. This idea that tik tok administrators can take over the app and also restrict the freedoms of American citizens just because the app is rooted in China is unsettling. Other than hiding the horrors happening in Beijing it is unknown what else the people controlling the app could be monitoring. Personally, I stand with the U.S. decision to want to take away the tik tok app to protect Americans from the Chinese taking advantage of what they can post and also their privacy as they can get into people’s privacy. The statement regarding that they accidentally added a clause saying that they could not make political commentaries on the tik tok act or tik toks in general. This situation seemed very concerning to me because it looks like the Chinese government runs the tik tok app and then makes the board lie to interviewers so that it doesn’t make the company look bad. This type of censatized data can become very dangerous to individuals civil liberties as the government does not want American to see the injustice being done to those living in Beijing because they know it’s wrong. This article personally affected my life because I stand with then students in Beijing and for that reason I will no longer use tik tok and let the government manipulate these citizens as well as our American citizens. I will also make my friends aware of this in hopes that they will also reject using tik tok and help strike the imbreachment of civil liberties coming from the Chinese government. This article also helped highlight the importance of making sure that you are aware of the apps you are using and who is controlling them because in a lot of cases people will download and app and become a regular user without even realizing where the app comes from or where the information they are putting on the app goes.

  18. Tilman Pitcher February 7, 2020 at 8:17 pm #

    As with many of my peers above have stated the main gripe I have with this whole situation is the involvement of youth so disproportionately. The information that Chinese officials are tracking is that of people less than the age of 13 in millions of cases. The people being targeted are not necessarily the worries of the present, but instead the future.

    To me, this paints a very clear image of a ‘plan’ of sorts. The Chinese Government doesn’t care about the whereabouts of 13 year olds in America. They do, however, appreciate having a working database thats been working on their subjects for years such that when they finally turn into adults they already have a pretty filled profile.

    Needless to say, its scary stuff. We have foreign governments rather openly spying on the youth of our nation, and for some reason, we don’t really care. We can all recognize that at this point privacy is essentially a pipe dream, but there is something particularly disturbing about the actual targeting of children. Without any real restrictions on their work, and the general resting ignorance of the American populous, there is no reason to believe that they won’t continue to do so for a long time.

    China is facing essentially 0 consequences for their actions. That goes for every human rights crime they infringe, carbon foot print they leave, and copyright they infringe. It is almost hard to blame them. There are no consequences for these actions and it gives them a distinct competitive edge in the global market. Most developed countries are playing a completely different game with a completely different set of rules. Yet, in China, we have a Cold War Era government functioning with modern technology and we are witnessing the results.

    To compete in the global market, some are willing to go further than others.

  19. Matthew Pavlik February 7, 2020 at 8:33 pm #

    While I think that the Chinese government hasn’t (yet) used Tik Tok for surveillance and its purchase was purely for economic reasons (it has become Vine but better), I understand the concern. This reminds me of the internet hoax that the talking kitty apps were used by Russians to spy on children, except this situation has some verity and legitimate concerns to it. Perhaps I go to China and, after posting a Tik Tok while still in America that makes a joke about China’s cover up of Tienanmen Square, I get arrested after my face is picked up by a Chinese camera. Even the thought that this could happen is a cause for concern (…and my possibly irrational fear of this will keep me away from China), especially since the information that China could be getting is that of children, teens, and young adults who just think that they are making funny videos to show to their friends. It is possible that, over time, China could acquire the location and other data of hundreds of millions of users, as well as the information behind anything else that they post. Still, the boogeyman that is Chinese surveillance and censorship is not perfect. Just today it was announced that some people in China are getting through the Great Firewall because so many are spamming social media with anger against the state for the cover ups of the novel Corona virus. Still, China moves fast and they are planning for the long term, so if they do eventually choose to take this data (as they famously take any data and technology that they can get away with), it could give them and their companies a significant advantage in trade. While this seems to just be fear mongering, the fact that it is not far from the realm of possibility is troubling.

  20. Justin Mathews February 7, 2020 at 8:34 pm #

    China and censorship — I’m not sure if I could name a more prominent duo. Tiktok skyrocketed in popularity over the past couple of years, and it’s not hard to understand why. A site with short, user-submitted content designed for all ages is bound to a attract a wide audience. The popularity and user-base size also doesn’t surprise me because I have heard the staggering amount of registered users there are in China alone.

    While I don’t think the censorship on TikTok is that big of an issue for the app, considering the type of users the app mainly targets (no offense to anyone whatsoever), it is important to note that Tiktok isn’t the only application or popular media that China is trying to politically control. Just last year, there was quite a scare on the popular internet forum “Reddit” over similar concerns when a Chinese company invested in the companies. Users were automatically fearful that because of this large investment, Reddit would be a target of censorship. While the site didn’t undergo any of these rumored changes, it is still beneficial to observe the reactions of the userbase.

    Another example of recent Chinese censorship in popular media would be the events that occurred on the “Blizzard.net” gaming platform just last year. In the wake of the Hong-Kong events, a professional gamer was fined and suspended from the competitive league for making comments about the protests in Hong Kong. Blizzard.net, being heavily invested in by Chinese companies, felt the need to respond and punish the player for his actions. This was met by widespread outrage and was the talk of gaming communities for months.

    The point is that while I don’t think TikTok itself will suffer from these censorship rules, it is an indicator as to how many Chinese companies will control their platforms.

  21. Mason Lai February 14, 2020 at 12:09 pm #

    Reading this article, I have to say that I agree with the suspicions and the theory that there’s a dark secret behind the social media app. The current trend nowadays among us teenagers, young adults and even adults in some cases using the social networking app “TikTok” has been trending and going viral around the internet for the past year and more. Users using this app create three to fifteen second videos during which they dance to some popular music song or so it seems.
    TikTok is based in China and it has me concerned due to the fact that the Communist Chinese government have been known for their malicious intents and their espionage on other countries especially the US. The current situation between Meng Wanzhou (the chief financial officer of Huawei which is another company suspected by the US of espionage among other charges) and her extradition request by the US is an example of another Chinese affiliated company suspected of being a risk to national security in the US (especially their “revolutionary” 5-G network products).
    I personally am not a user of TikTok and will never be one due to the risks believing that my data and my personal information will be recorded and used by the Chinese government for malicious purposes. Either way, although the chances of the Chinese government or it’s spies coming to get me is low, I still do not approve of it being under the Chinese Government’s “command”, in other words, the Chinese government has the final call in which some videos posted on TikTok can be taken down due to China’s restriction of free speech and expression which is contrarary to the statement provided by TikTok saying “We have never been asked by the Chinese government to remove any content, and we would not do so if asked, period” and an open disregard for the 1st amendment in the US (since it also operates in the US and has companies and data servers located there).
    In the end, I am highly against the use of TikTok and I don’t approve of it being available for download in the US especially with all the controversy surrounding it. As I briefly mentioned above, China and it’s government is known for it’s espionage and it’s ability to engage in cyberwarfare and cybercrimes between other countries. Although the founder of Bytedance (the company who owns TikTok), Mr Zhang seem to have a positive outlook on the app and his topic in his speech at a technology conference about the company’s “global expansion strategy”, I still firmly believe that the Chinese Communist government is behind the shadows manipulating Bytedance among other Chinese Tech companies as part of the “strategy”.

  22. Morgan Mooney February 14, 2020 at 1:42 pm #

    I agree with the article’s theory of how Chinese companies could be threats to leak private information through apps. The Chinese Government could be trying to gain access to information and they could be using these apps that are owned by Chinese companies to get it. I do not think American leaders would randomly remove companies out of the country unless they know something is wrong with them or something could be a little off. If they believe that it is unsafe to get these certain apps then I do not think that we should either. Why put yourself or anyone in your family at risk when you do not have to. There are always alternate means to everything these days so there will probably be another app that is like Tik Toc that could be more secure and safer to use.
    With a federal panel created to review the background of Tik Toc and found that the company Bytedance had purchased the app two years ago. Bytedance is a very successful company in the country of China and has many followers. Senators have been warning President Trump to check security protocols, “warning that Bytedance could strip out content that displeases the Communist Party, such as videos of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.” Bytedance continues to say that they do not remove any content and that there are videos on the site of the rallies for Hong Kong.
    Bytedance’s owner, Zhang Yiming, has told reporters that he owns a technology company, not a media company. He is allowing people to post what they want whether it involves politics or not. Yet no other company has been able to be as successful as Bytedance so that raises some questions because the chine government is notorious for taking down certain posts and causing strife within companies. Bytedance has been able to have billions of downloads worldwide. According to the data firm Sensor Tower, It has had nearly 1.5 billion downloads globally and 122 million in the United States. The popularity that the app Tic Tok is reaching is uncharted and never seen before.

  23. Robert Adelson February 14, 2020 at 5:25 pm #

    TikTok has seemingly taken the country by storm in recent months. Even though I do not believe the Chinese government is using the app for surveillance or that the app poses a threat to national security, I understand the concern and the U.S should do their due diligence . TikTok popped up out of nowhere and now all the teenagers around the world are using it. It has had nearly 1.5 billion downloads globally and 122 million in the United States, according to the data firm Sensor Tower. TikTok is based in China, where the Chinese Communist government have a strong hold over everything especially in regards to social media platforms. While TikTok has denied being an issue or being a part of the communist government, when there is smoke there is fire. The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have been going on for quite sometime and the Chinese government have constantly tried to suppress it. In the United States, promoting or encouraging democracy in China could have ramifications and we have already seen examples of it. This past fall, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support of the Honk Kong Protest and it sent the NBA world into a frenzy. The NBA and its players make a lot money from advertising and promoting in China and from Chinese sponsors and all of that money could have been flushed down the drain. This shows the power of China, and the U.S is fully aware of it. They know China can choose to use TikTok to take information from its users or spy others. They are just trying to prevent China from doing so before they even get started. Chinese companies like Huawei have already been removed from the country and TikTok does not want to be the next one. With the constant growth of technology and social media, companies are under more of a microscope. They information they receive and what they do with it has become under question more in recent years. It is up to the companies to be transparent, to show the world want they do and keep no secrets. In the case of TikTok, that to prove that they are not a threat to national security and privacy.

  24. Tarun Yetrintala February 14, 2020 at 6:32 pm #

    There is currently 500 million people that have TikTok downloaded on their phone, and I am one of those people. During the day when I am really bored, and on my phone, I am usually on TikTok. TikTok is a type of social media app, that I downloaded not too long ago, that makes users all around the world post short videos of themselves doing something entertaining to share with their friends, family, and the entire world. Usually the posts I see is trending actions or pop culture related videos. When I first downloaded this app, I was instantly in love with. I would constantly watch videos during my free time, and I eventually started making a few videos and posting them to the public to watch. My first video I posted I got over a thousand views, which got very excited about. I believe a week ago, my friend told me that TikTok is owned by a company in China called Bytedance. I wasn’t aware of this, but it didn’t really bother me at all. Technology advances every day, and some people don’t realize what’s new out there. I just thought TikTok was going to be the next big thing and had no harm to us. But after reading this article I was shocked of the risk there is for downloading TikTok. A lot of different ages use this app, and a good amount of the users are teenagers. It’s just scary to me that the Chinese government has surveillance and access of our personal information we put when making the account. TikTok’s privacy policy has reserved the right to share any information with Chinese authorities. I believe the United States are having some issues with Hong Kong, and it’s possible that China can use TikTok against us. Apps like TikTok can be very addicted, and you won’t even realize where it’s from. I use this app literally every day, and I never expected a whole different country owning it. This article taught me to always be careful on what you download and be aware on who is in control of the app.

  25. Philip John Cabardo Mabalatan February 14, 2020 at 8:56 pm #

    In an era where the internet is a priority to people, large companies and even countries will try jump on the opportunity to control it in some form. Presently, TikTok has taken society by storm garnering nearly 1.5 billion users globally. With a social site this large, controversial media is likely to arise. With this comes those governments which seek to limit what information gets out. In this case, China is allegedly limiting what content makes it out into the public. Many of these users are not aware of who owns these apps, which means there is limited hesitance of what is posted online. Now, countries like China are weary of what their citizens can see. Certain blocks are placed to prevent any potential protests or uprisings.
    The state of social media is a very precarious slope. Just like most technology in this modern age, it has inherently melded together as a part of society. This can be attributed to the sway that social media has, having users varying from public officials to celebrities and everyone in between. In recent years, social media has been a tool used by the public as a platform to speak your mind. Millions of users have information about people and the world available to them at their fingertips. This is a dangerous ability.
    This may come into conflict with the type of government China has. China, wanting to limit any propaganda from getting out, they have set up a “technological iron curtain”. The United States has long tried to form a tight economic bond with China, however there are buffers which can delay that desire. Much of China’s internet is private and doesn’t allow for the nation to view certain site. This helps bring China to some of its goals.
    Regarding TikTok, the company says it would not remove any content despite the government’s wishes. This calls into question what the government will do about this. According to the article, TikTok attempts to bypass this problem by forbidding any political content within the region of Hong Kong.
    Citizens of China may be influenced by content outside of the country. American content has been gifted the ability of free speech, which sets an example that the Chinese can’t follow. By witnessing a position to be able to freely express themselves, citizens of Hong Kong will want to do the same.

  26. Ryan A Luckman February 21, 2020 at 6:28 pm #

    No Chinese company has had as big of a social impact as Bytedance. This Chinese company has so much control because of the millions of people that use their app Tiktok. Research shows that there are over 500 active users on Tiktok. Tiktok has so much control because of the content that can be viewed all over the world. The question that can be proposed is if it poses a threat to national security, as well as threatening free speech as they censor media that they find to be against communist beliefs. These are serious propositions against an app that seems to draw many children who like to sing and dance on video. How would this work? The 2016 election is one that many point to as a threat to national security. For example, the ads and control over media on Facebook was said to have an impact on the 2016 election. Could this have the same impact now?
    The answer to that question is definitely. Tiktok would allow this Chinese company to propose communist beliefs to whomever they wish. They have control over every user, as well as their data. On Tiktok, one could log into their other social media accounts, which Bytedance now has access to. They now have passwords, facial recognition, and many other forms of personal data. This is no question a threat to national security, especially from a country that tries to have as much social control over their people as possible. This also brings up free speech, as anything on the Hong Kong protests is immediately taken down. This app does not want anyone to know about what is actually happening in Hong Kong. This could be an action taken by the Chinese government to make sure nothing gets out, which is part of their censorship policies. This is a big threat to the United States and we have to take action as soon as possible. President Trump must consult the CIA briefly to discuss the potential actions that need to be put in place to make sure that the safety of anyone is not threatened in any way because of this app

Leave a Reply