Americans could lose access to TikTok within months if a bill that seeks to force its Beijing-based parent company ByteDance to sell its stake is signed into law. But the popular video-sharing app’s potentially swift demise depends on whether the bill can overcome a number of hurdles.

 

Lawmakers have long tried to regulate the platform because of its ties to China. They argue it threatens national security because the Chinese government could use TikTok to spy on Americans or weaponize it to covertly influence the U.S. public by amplifying or suppressing certain content.

 

The basic charge is that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, a Chinese company, could be compelled by the government in Beijing to use their app in targeted operations to manipulate public opinion, collect mass data on Americans, and even spy on individual users. (TikTok says it has never shared U.S. user data with the Chinese government and would not do so if asked. This week, TikTok CEO Shou Chew said that “there’s no CCP ownership” of ByteDance, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.)

U.S. intelligence has produced no evidence that the popular social media site has ever coordinated with Beijing. That fact hasn’t stopped many in Congress and even President Biden.

 

Though top national security officials seem happy to echo these allegations of Chinese control of TikTok, they stop short of saying that China has ever actually coordinated with the company.

Typical is an interview CIA Director William Burns gave to CNN in 2022, where he said it was “troubling to see what the Chinese government could do to manipulate TikTok.” Not what the Chinese government has done, but what it could do.

What China could do turns out to be a recurring theme in the statements of the top national security officials.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said during a 2022 talk at the University of Michigan that TikTok’s “parent company is controlled by the Chinese government, and it gives them the potential [emphasis added] to leverage the app in ways that I think should concern us.” Wray went on to cite TikTok’s ability to control its recommendation algorithm, which he said “allows them to manipulate content and if they want to [emphasis added], to use it for influence operations.”

In the same talk, Wray three times referred to the Chinese government’s “ability” to spy on TikTok users but once again stopped short of saying that they do so.

In an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” a tech expert stated that the U.S. version of TikTok — a Chinese-owned social media platform — is different than the Chinese version of the app, comparing the two experiences to opium and spinach.

“If you’re under 14 years old, they show you science experiments you can do at home, museum exhibits, patriotism videos and educational videos,” said Harris, according to “60 Minutes,” adding that children in China were limited to only 40 minutes a day on the app.

“There’s a survey of pre-teens in the U.S. and China asking, ‘what is the most aspirational career that you want to have?’ and in the U.S., the No. 1 was a social media influencer, and in China, the No. 1 was astronaut,” Harris said. “You allow those two societies to play out for a few generations and I can tell you what your world is going to look like.”

Here is what the main Tik Tok videos in the US are, 2023 dance challenge, I built a dream Dog house. Best memes of 2023, blind dating girls based on their outfits, and that’s just a hand full.

Banning Tik Tok in the US would be against freedom of speech, I believe China is not stealing our information and if they were what they be from Tik Tok? Our dance moves and memes? It is wky they present the algorithm where in China it is more focused on eructation and patriotism and in the US is just frankly silliness. But should silliness be banned? Afterall it is entertainment.

I think if anything it sheds a light on how each culture is different and how they present the platform to their audience.

With all the intellectual property that China steals through other means do you really think Tik Tok would be a source.

I do wish we would be focused on education and patriotism here in the US, however I do think China does not have the right to our Dance moves and Memes.

We discuss this live on Davin” Den this Tuesday March 19th 7-pm-9:30 pm et. Go to davincomedy.com and click Davin’s Den, and listen live, or see us the Davin’s Den Facebook page.

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