Chinese video sharing app TikTok.
Hi, my name is Daniel and I have a problem. A TikTok problem.
After dismissing it for months, TikTok was thrust upon me last month at, of all things, a bachelor party in Hong Kong. It was a little like The Hangover, but subtract drugs, strippers and Mike Tyson's tiger and replace it with a Chinese video app aimed at 16-year-olds.
And now I'm addicted. A feed comprised of millions of silly videos from people around the world, curated to my taste by artificial intelligence. I never really stood a chance. Recent favorites include a dog getting its nails clipped, a teen runner belly flopping into a pool of mud mid-race, and a stoner interrupting a college lecture to heat up popcorn with a microwave he brought from home.
TikTok stands out from other social media in one key way: You actually feel good after using it.Expanding Facebook friend counts lead to people sharing less, making the platform feel sterile. Studies show Instagram, acting as a highlight reel of other people's artificial lives, is harmful to self-esteem. Twitter is designed to be a platform for open conversation, but reduces people, arguments and ideas into 280-character caricatures.
Do you remember the last time you felt satisfied after using any of these apps? I don't. Not only do I remember the last time I felt satisfied post-TikTok (yesterday), TikTok has brought me closer to friends and colleagues. We share videos and laugh. We bond, which is what Facebook, Instagram and Twitter fail at.
But TikTok has to go.
My problem with the app isn't its guarantee to waste too much of my time. Though TikTok distinguishes itself by being fun to use, its parent company is like many Silicon Valley giants in one key way: It can't be trusted.
Paying attention to TikTok the app has made it necessary to pay attention to TikTok the company. And it's not a pretty sight.
The app is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, currently the most valuable startup in the world. Being a company of any importance in China means working with the ruling Communist Party in some capacity. Tech platforms in the past have not only had to purge any mention of Tiananmen Square Massacre or Tibetan independence, but also remove "subversive" imagery like Winnie the Pooh and Peppa Pig.
"Firms such as Huawei, Tencent, ZTE, Alibaba, and Baidu have no meaningful ability to tell the Chinese Communist Party 'no' if officials decide to ask for their assistance," said US International Security bureaucrat Christopher Ashley Ford at a conference in September.
Like Huawei, TikTok denies this charge. The New York Times in November asked TikTok boss Alex Zhu what he would do if President Xi Jinping personally requested that he take down a video or share user data. "I would turn him down," Zhu proclaimed.
So it was a little suspicious when news broke that TikTok had taken down the profile of an American teenager promoting awareness about China's disastrous human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims. TikTok says the 17-year-old's account was disabled not because of that video, but in relation to a TikTok featuring imagery of Osama Bin Laden.
It's an eyebrow raiser for sure, but plausible. Unfortunately for TikTok, and people like me who just want to love TikTok, the app has had a spectacular run of bad news since.
TikTok boss Alex Zhu told the New York Times he would deny a personal request for data or content moderation from Chinese President Xi Jinping.
A proposed class-action lawsuit filed in California claims the app has been illegally and secretly harvesting personally identifiable user data and sending it to China. A report out of Germany found TikTok had been hiding videos posted by LGBTQ and disabled users from people's feeds, which TikTok said was a temporary anti-bullying measure. A think tank backed by Australia's Department of Defense called ByteDance a "vector for censorship and surveillance," adding that it "collaborates with public security bureaus across China."
For its part, TikTok says it doesn't operate in China -- the country has an app called Douyin which is essentially TikTok with a different name and stricter, China-specific content guidelines -- and that it has no data centers in the country. "TikTok does not remove content based on sensitivities related to China," a spokesperson said. "We have never been asked by the Chinese government to remove any content and we would not do so if asked. Period."
TikTok is a platform filled with much-needed mindless mirth, and was the springboard for noted banger Ol' Town Road. But when you stack that up against accusations of harvesting user data, censoring what the Chinese Communist Party doesn't like and its parent company's alleged active assistance in human rights violations, it almost seems like it's not worth it.
A thought exercise: If you could go back in time and stop yourself and everyone around you from downloading Facebook, would you?
In 2019, Facebook feels inescapable. Dissatisfied users grumble about how they would delete it if they could, and it seems the ongoing privacy catastrophes do little to damage the company. Regulating Facebook fairly would be a tricky balancing act US lawmakers are reluctant to attempt.
Click for more Boom With a View.
No one could have expected this in 2008, when Facebook overtook Myspace to become the world's biggest social media site. Conversely, TikTok is just 3 years young but the red flags are already there.
It's hard to say what the ramifications of its huge user base could be but, based on past experience with social media giants plus the nature of business in China, we can guess it's probably not good. The US government isn't idling, with the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) already investigating the national security risks of TikTok and ByteDance, according to Reuters.
But governments move slowly, and tech companies move fast. Unlike Facebook, TikTok isn't yet too big to fail. But it certainly feels like we're at a crossroads. Support it now and potentially create a problem, or play it safe by giving up TikTok.
The reasonable choice to make is clear: When it comes to TikTok, just say no. But we're all pretty bad when it comes to making the reasonable choice. If we weren't, cigarettes wouldn't exist.
Even being a tech journalist aware of its issues, I don't want to give TikTok up. I'm guessing many of the hundreds of millions of teens who make up the app's main user base, and who largely don't know or care about the implications of an ascendant ByteDance, are less keen to hit uninstall.
It's time to admit it. We all have a TikTok problem.
- Get In Depth Analysis Of How Covid-19 Is Impacting The Internet Security Software Market - The Daily Chronicle - September 12th, 2020
- Better late than never: Zoom boosts security with 2FA - Verdict - September 12th, 2020
- Show and Tell: The Gryphon Tower Mesh Wi-Fi Security Router - Grit Daily - September 12th, 2020
- Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market 2020 Trends, Market Share, Industry Size, Opportunities, Drivers, Outlook, Analysis And Forecast To 2028 -... - September 12th, 2020
- Ensuring cyber awareness in the healthcare sector - Help Net Security - September 12th, 2020
- Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market Size, Regional Outlook, Competitive Strategies and Forecast by 2026 - The Daily Chronicle - September 12th, 2020
- Internet of Things Security Market, Share, Growth, Trends And Forecast To 2027: Dataintelo - Scientect - September 12th, 2020
- Kaspersky: 37% of internet users in SEA think they won't be targeted by cybercriminals - SoyaCincau.com - September 12th, 2020
- TikTok and WeChat may raise security concerns, but Trump's knee-jerk reaction isn't the way to deal with them - NewsChannel 3-12 - KEYT - September 12th, 2020
- Helping companies prioritize their cybersecurity investments - MIT News - September 6th, 2020
- Rapid7 NICER - starting a conversation on internet security | Company Report - FinTech Magazine - The FinTech & InsurTech Platform - September 6th, 2020
- Kansans are getting letters saying they applied for unemployment. The problem? Some never did. - Pittsburg Morning Sun - September 6th, 2020
- Embedded Security For Internet Of Things Market 2025 Opportunities, Applications, Drivers, Limitations, Companies, Countries, & Forecast - Express... - September 6th, 2020
- Why should you use a VPN on your iPhone and Mac? - Cult of Mac - September 6th, 2020
- 'No longer safe in their classroom:' NHCS remote-learning session hacked, sexualized profanity used - Port City Daily - September 6th, 2020
- How Romania is Solving Technology and Poverty Disparities - Borgen Project - September 6th, 2020
- How government is delivering better election security - GCN.com - September 6th, 2020
- Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market Report: Regional Data Analysis By Production, Revenue, Price And Gross Margin - Kewaskum Statesman News... - September 6th, 2020
- What is the quantum internet? Everything you need to know about the weird future of quantum networks - ZDNet - September 6th, 2020
- How automation testing stays crucial to the future of Internet of Things (IoT) - Latest Digital Transformation Trends | Cloud News - Wire19 - September 6th, 2020
- One of the largest internet outages ever recorded occurred this weekend - TechRadar - September 6th, 2020
- A third of companies are exposing unsafe network services to the internet - BetaNews - September 6th, 2020
- Meet The New Anonymous100 Million BTS ARMY And K-Pop Stans, A Cyber Threat To Be Reckoned With - Forbes - September 6th, 2020
- Is Wall Street winning in China? - The Economist - September 6th, 2020
- 60 Seconds In Cybersecurity: Heres What Happens In Just One Malicious Internet Minute - Forbes - August 28th, 2020
- Research Report prospects the Internet Security Software Market - Owned - August 28th, 2020
- Cyber Security Market to Benefit from Increasing Application of AI and IoT Technologies - GlobeNewswire - August 28th, 2020
- Hackers are exploiting the 'Internet of Things' - ITProPortal - August 28th, 2020
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Protection Market Will Generate New Growth Opportunities in the next upcoming year - The Daily Chronicle - August 28th, 2020
- IT Security Market to Remain Competitive | Major Giants Continuously Expanding Market - The News Brok - August 28th, 2020
- Internet Of Things Iot Security Market : Global Industry Analysis And Opportunity Assessment 2026 Cisco Systems, Inc., Ibm Corporation, Intel... - August 28th, 2020
- Click Fraud Risk as Smartphone Is Discovered with Pre-Installed Malware - Infosecurity Magazine - August 28th, 2020
- The ability to hear, be heard and be understood is vital The importance of audio communication devices in security - IFSEC Global - August 28th, 2020
- Wrap your ears around Episode 451 of the Two Blokes Talking Tech podcast - Tech Guide - August 28th, 2020
- Taking stock of the Chinese factor in American elections - Arab News - August 28th, 2020
- How to choose and set up a business VPN - TechRadar - August 28th, 2020
- Internet Grows to 370.1 Million Domain Name Registrations at the End of the Second Quarter of 2020 - Social News XYZ - August 28th, 2020
- Internet of Things Security Market Analysis by Size, Share, Growth, Latest Innovation, Trends and Forecast 2019 2025 - Scientect - August 28th, 2020
- The TikTok Ban Should Worry Every Company - Harvard Business Review - August 28th, 2020
- TLS and VPN Flaws Offer Most Pen Tester Access - Infosecurity Magazine - August 28th, 2020
- The Center for Internet Security (CIS) Use Cases and Cost Justification - Security Boulevard - August 10th, 2020
- Peering into the Future of Sino-Russian Cyber Security Cooperation - War on the Rocks - August 10th, 2020
- Internet of Things Security Industry Market Sales, Price, Revenue, Gross Margin and Industry Share 2020-2025 - Express Journal - August 10th, 2020
- Insights on the Cyber Security Global Market to 2028 - Featuring Dell Technologies, Fireeye & Fortinet Among Others - GlobeNewswire - August 10th, 2020
- So What Does Trump Have Against TikTok? - The New York Times - August 10th, 2020
- Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market Size, Development, Key Opportunity, Application & Forecast to 2025 - Chelanpress - August 10th, 2020
- Someone just dumped 20GB of internal Intel data on the Internet - TechSpot - August 10th, 2020
- Malaysia Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market Size, Global Future Trend, Segmentation, Business Growth, Top Key Players, Opportunities and... - August 10th, 2020
- Global Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market 2020 Competitive Analysis Cisco Systems, Intel Corporation, IBM Corporation - Owned - August 10th, 2020
- Common Internet of Things security pitfalls Urgent Comms - Urgent Communications - July 29th, 2020
- US starts work on making virtually unhackable internet a reality; All you need to know about Quantum Internet - The Financial Express - July 29th, 2020
- Internet Of Everything (IoE) Market Growth Analysis By Manufacturers, Regions, Types and Application Forecast - Market Research Posts - July 29th, 2020
- What are you giving away on social media? | IT PRO - IT PRO - July 29th, 2020
- Explained: Why is spyware, stalkerware gaining traction during the pandemic? - The Indian Express - July 29th, 2020
- Are we seeing the beginnings of an Indian internet? - Deccan Herald - July 29th, 2020
- What the Tech? Check Your Internet Security When Working from Home - Alabama News Network - July 27th, 2020
- Security of the internet is improving, but there is work to be done - Security Magazine - July 27th, 2020
- Outlook on the Internet Security Software Market to 2025 by Application, End-user and Geography - CueReport - July 27th, 2020
- U.S. Government Says Its Building A Virtually Unhackable Quantum Internet - Forbes - July 27th, 2020
- Amid 'heightened tensions,' US government issues warning to critical infrastructure providers - Utility Dive - July 27th, 2020
- The global Internet of Things (IoT) security market size is expected to grow from USD 12.5 billion in 2020 to USD 36.6 billion by 2025, at a Compound... - July 27th, 2020
- WISeKey to Showcase its Cybersecurity Solutions for Artificial Intelligence Used in Drones and Robots at SIDO 2020 - GlobeNewswire - July 27th, 2020
- Various Politicians, Companies, And Activists Are Targeted By A Secretive Industry - See How India Has Become A Hire-for-hack Place For Other... - July 27th, 2020
- Internet of Things (IoT) Security Product Market Forecasts and Opportunity Assessment Analysis 2019-2025 - Owned - July 27th, 2020
- ESET scores high in the Business Security Test 2020 - My Startup World - July 27th, 2020
- Global Internet of Things (IoT) Security Market 2020 Trends Analysis and Coronavirus (COVID-19) Effect Analysis | KEY PLAYERS MARKET WITH COVID-19... - July 27th, 2020
- The 12 Coolest AWS Tools Of 2020 (So Far) - CRN - July 27th, 2020
- Smart Home Market with COVID-19 Impact Analysis by Product, Software & Services, and Region - Global Forecast to 2025 - GlobeNewswire - July 27th, 2020
- MailVault ties up with BD Soft as the National Distributor, for the Indian Markets - CRN.in - July 27th, 2020
- WISeKey Appoints Ben Stump as Chief Revenue Officer to Drive the Next Phase of its Global Growth - GlobeNewswire - July 27th, 2020
- 4G internet not a security concern, no objection restoring it: JK admin tells Centre - The Kashmir Walla - July 27th, 2020
- This Is a Good Time to Buy Fastly Stock on the Dip - InvestorPlace - July 27th, 2020
- How firms are keeping staff and secrets safe from hackers now everyone is working remotely - CNBC - July 27th, 2020
- Cloudflare goes down, and takes the internet's security blanket with it - Mashable - July 23rd, 2020
- Should You Connect Your Brain to the Internet? - Security Boulevard - July 23rd, 2020
- Global Internet Security Market Growth Rate and Opportunities By 2025 With COVID-19 Outbreak, Top Players: HPE, IBM, Intel, Symantec, AlienVault,... - July 23rd, 2020
- Global Internet Security Market 2020 Growth Rate, Gross Margin, Competitive Situation and Trends, Forecast To 2026 - 3rd Watch News - July 23rd, 2020
- How Coronavirus Pandemic Will Impact Internet Security Software Market Size, Growth Opportunitis, Current trends, Forecast By 2026 - 3rd Watch News - July 23rd, 2020
- IT Security Consulting Services Market 2020: Potential Growth, Challenges, and Know the Companies List Could Potentially Benefit or Loose out From the... - July 23rd, 2020
- Scammers prey on Coronavirus fears - The Tomahawk - July 23rd, 2020