Herland Report: TicTok banned in the US: Used for China to surveil Western users? President Donald Trump has issued an executive order prohibiting using emergency powers, Americans from any transaction with ByteDance Ltd., a privately owned Chinese company, or any of its subsidiaries.
Prohibited transactions, the order states, will be those “identified” by the Secretary of Commerce.
TikTok has been accused of surveilling users, censoring content, and mishandling information of minors. There are also concerns the app has vulnerabilities, allowing the surreptitious downloading of malicious software on devices. The most important allegation involves manipulation of users.
TicTok banned in the US: Used for China to surveil Western users? The app, which the New York Times called “China’s first truly global internet success story,” is wildly popular, especially among teenagers and tweens. Available in 39 languages in more than 150 markets, last year TikTok was the world’s second-most downloaded non-gaming app.
There are, according to Trump’s executive order, more than a billion downloads of TikTok worldwide and more than 175 million in the United States alone. There are, analysts estimate, in excess of 800 million active monthly users.
TikTok is addictive, but that should come as no surprise. It was designed to be such, powered by perhaps the world’s most sophisticated artificial intelligence for this purpose. TikTok delivers, perhaps better than any other app, customized content.
“If you want to know a person, all you have to do is look at their TikTok feed,” Jonathan Bass, who as CEO of PTM Images is a buyer of social-media advertising, told Gatestone.
“The feed reveals, in detail, the sum of a person’s preferences.”
“Unlike Facebook, TikTok, because it uses artificial intelligence to populate a newsfeed before you even add a single friend to the platform, creates a profile of who you are, including your fears and vulnerabilities,” Paul Dabrowa, an Australian national security expert, said to this site.
Bass told me about his friend’s nerdy son, who was never was able to attract more than a hundred Instagram followers. On TikTok, however, he garnered 26,000 of them in just two weeks.
Why is this nerd so popular? TikTok’s algorithm, able to identify thousands of data points, sent his videos to people it knew shared his nerdy likes and dislikes.
Data is power. Artificial intelligence permits Beijing to profile a user and then to figure out what will motivate him or her. Specifically, TikTok uses data to curate content. Curated content, in turn, motivates people to act in certain ways. This is thought to be especially easy to do with the impressionable young, nerdy and otherwise.
TikTok, therefore, is a powerful selling platform. There is obviously no damage to U.S. national security if you were to use the app to sell, as does Bass, framed pictures, coffee table knick-knacks, and other accent pieces for the home.
But what if you are trying to bring down the American government? TikTok would be extraordinarily useful. As Dabrowa told Gatestone, “My team discovered that TikTok can be used to trigger desired responses and behaviors.”
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