A comprehensive TikTok ban? Useless and doomed to failure

If ByteDance does not sell TikTok, the social media app could be banned in the US. Other countries that (want to) ban the app are India, Taiwan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Should TikTok be completely overhauled?

TikTok is one of the most popular, but also one of the most geopolitically charged apps out there right now. The social media of Chinese parent company ByteDance has more than 1 billion monthly users worldwide. The app has 150 million users in Europe and 100 million in the United States. On average, a user spends an hour and a half a day on TikTok.

TikTok has long ceased to be the innocent app where only teens share dances. Although the app is still particularly popular with young people – from a Stady As of 2022, it turns out that 56 percent of children and 86 percent of young people in Flanders use TikTok – for example, many journalists and politicians are also active. But in many Western countries, policymakers see TikTok as a major risk. Some fear that it is a channel of Chinese espionage and propaganda. The fall of a mysterious Chinese balloon over the US has reignited the debate over a ban on TikTok.

what is he talking about?

First of all, it is about the data that TikTok collects from its users. According to the Privacy declaration This includes a user’s name, birthday, location, videos they like, who they send messages to, and what they contain (such as preventing spam, detecting crime, and protecting users). If the user gives permission, ByteDance also gets access to their contact list. Moreover, TikTok also asks for permission to use the mobile device’s microphone and camera, and the user can choose to grant it only when using the app. The latter worries some experts: Could TikTok be used in this way to eavesdrop on users?

The next important question is what ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, does with this data. In principle, TikTok collects no more data, but also no less data than other popular social media apps. But since it concerns a Chinese company, where government interference is usually greater than in Europe or the United States, Western countries are concerned.

See also  Sweden, ever green, is cutting its climate budget

Moreover, ByteDance’s reputation is not immaculate. I discovered American Magazine last summer Forbes That 300 employees of the company were Employee by Chinese state media. In November, ByteDance admitted that its site Employees in China monitor European users’ data To ensure a “consistent, fun and safe” experience on the App. This eventually led to a change in its privacy policy. December came Forbes Then he fell back with a message that ByteDance employees had used the app to spy on journalists Who reported on TikTok. Those employees would have been fired in the meantime.

Finally, experts also question TikTok’s algorithm, which is shrouded in mystery. The Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018 showed how social media can influence what people think. The British marketing agency then secretly collected data from at least 87 million users across Facebook and used it for targeted ads, including for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Should TikTok be fixed?

The collection of so much data, the uncertainty of how and when a cellphone’s camera or microphone can be activated, the sharing of that data with the Chinese government, the uncertainty of how the algorithm works and strained geopolitical relations with China: they ensure that more and more regulators see unacceptable risks in TikTok.

As a result of this concern, TikTok was recently banned on the work phones of the Flemish, Walloon, and federal governments. The app has also been banned for government employees in Canada, Denmark, the United States and the United Kingdom, among other countries. These rules have recently also been applied to staff of the European Parliament, European Commission and Council.

That’s right, says computer scientist Jeroen Burt. As far as I am concerned, no app should ever collect user data on a government employee’s phone. For those who work with sensitive data, it is a risk. This applies not only to TikTok, but also to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

See also  The United States and the United Kingdom condemn the ban on the Navalny Foundation

Burt finds banning TikTok for the average citizen more difficult to justify. “Apart from the location of the headquarters, there is not much difference between TikTok and other social media. Moreover, this general ban also puts you in the water of personal freedom. If people are well-informed, they can decide for themselves which data is likely to be sensitive to the privacy they wish to share.Then they must realize that data that seems innocent today may not be so in the future.For example, information about a person’s orientation can suddenly be dangerous under a new system.Because data storage is cheap, you can Ensure all data is kept.If it is within reach, it can only be fished.

“National prohibition, as they think of the United States, seems to me useless and doomed,” Burt says. “If a ban comes around, you can be sure that young people will be fiddling with VPNs and other tricks to get back on TikTok in no time.”

What can ByteDance do?

According to ByteDance, which has always denied that the Chinese government has access to data from TikTok users, stripping TikTok will not change the flow of data. The company says it will roll out procedures itself, such as verifications by third parties. But according to Bloomberg News, TikTok is already considering it separate from the Chinese parent company.

Moreover, TikTok already works differently in the US than in the rest of the world. The algorithm will be vetted there by US software company Oracle and US users’ data will also be stored on servers in the US. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has called on the country to stop “unprovoked attacks” against the app. According to Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Washington has not yet presented evidence that TikTok threatens the national security of the United States. TikTok also wants to win trust in Europe European data centers.

See also  McLaren points to Brexit and the epidemic for the late major teams

Is the West hypocritical?

Critical voices from Europe and the United States can also be heard in the discussion. “We suspect shady things happen from TikTok, and we know about Meta (the parent company behind Facebook and Instagram, editor’s note), says Burt. Meta has been involved in quite a few scandals. Therefore, it is hypocritical for the West to point the finger of blame at China. Other than a few incidents involving journalists, there is little concrete evidence that ByteDance made mistakes.They may know how to hide it better, but it cannot be proven at this time.

PVDA Member of Parliament Jos D’Haese, the most popular Flemish politician on TikTok with 122,000 followers, does not want to take part in what he calls a “witch hunt”. “There are certainly risks, but to me they are no greater with TikTok than with US apps like Facebook or Twitter,” he said in a statement. the morning. Twitter is run by a billionaire who sympathizes with the far right. We know that Angela Merkel has been wiretapped by the Americans for years. This is part of the escalation of tensions against China by the United States. Donald Trump started it. China is a rising global power and now has a popular social medium. Washington can’t handle that. Don’t get me wrong: I worry about the way social media stores an insane amount of data and who has access to it: companies and governments. But I want a real discussion about that.

Bart disagrees. “When it comes to state security, I believe TikTok – and therefore all data-collecting apps – should be banned for government employees, for the benefit of the state and society. So sorry Jos D’Haese, that already means you’ll have to carry two phones around. This might be a little inconvenient, But the days when the phone weighed 12 kilograms are long gone. (He laughs)

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *