TikTok could be more dangerous than it seems - NITIDOZ - LOS MEJORES TRUCOS INFORMÁTICOS



lunes, 16 de mayo de 2022

TikTok could be more dangerous than it seems

At the heart of the frenzied interest in Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter is an intuition that strikes me as right: the major social media platforms are, in some hard-to-define way, essential to modern life. We could say that they are like public squares or infrastructures. They exist somewhere between public utility and private interest. They are too important to trust to billionaires and corporations, but that makes them too dangerous to hand over to governments. We have not yet found a satisfactory answer to the problem of its ownership and governance. But some deals are more worrying than others. There are worse fates than Musk.

TikTok as we know it today is only a few years old. But his growth is unlike anything we've seen before. In 2021, it had more active users than Twitter, more minutes of content watched in the US than YouTube, more app downloads than Facebook, and more visits to its website than Google. The app is known for viral dance trends, but there was a time when Twitter was all about 140-character updates on what we ordered for lunch and Facebook was restricted to elite colleges. Things change. Maybe they have already changed. A few weeks ago, I gave a lecture at a Presbyterian college in South Carolina and asked some students where they liked to get their information. Almost everyone said TikTok.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company. And Chinese companies are vulnerable to the whims and will of the Chinese government. There is no ambiguity on this point: the Chinese Communist Party spent much of last year cracking down on its tech sector, making Jack Ma, the flamboyant founder of Alibaba, a particular example. The message was unequivocal: CEOs will act according to the wishes of the party or see their lives turned upside down and their companies dismembered.

In August 2020, President Donald Trump signed an executive order insisting that TikTok be sold to an American company or banned in the United States. In the fall, ByteDance was looking for a buyer, with Oracle and Walmart the most likely suitors, but then Joe Biden won the election and the sale was shelved.

In June, Biden replaced Trump's executive order, which was clumsily drafted and successfully challenged in court, with one of his own. The problem, as Biden's order defines it, is that apps like TikTok “can access and capture vast swathes of user information, including personal information of United States individuals and proprietary business information. This data collection threatens to provide foreign adversaries with access to that information.”

Let's call this the data espionage problem. Apps like TikTok collect user data. That data could be valuable to foreign governments. That's why the Army and Navy banned downloading TikTok on soldiers' work phones, and why Senator Josh Hawley wrote a bill to ban it on all government devices.

TikTok is working on an answer: “Project Texas,” a plan to host US customer data on US servers and somehow restrict access by its parent company. But as BuzzFeed News's Emily Baker-White writes in an excellent report, "The Texas Project appears to be more of an exercise in geography, one that appears well positioned to address concerns about Chinese government access to the personal information of Americans. However, it does not address other ways China could weaponize the platform, such as tweaking TikTok's algorithms to increase exposure to divisive content, or tweaking the platform to seed or fuel disinformation campaigns."

Let's call this the manipulation problem. The true power of TikTok is not control of our data. It is the influence it has on what users see and create. It's about the opaque algorithm that governs what you see and what you don't.

TikTok has been awash with videos supporting the Russian narrative about the war in Ukraine. Media Matters, for example, tracked down an apparently coordinated campaign powered by 186 Russian TikTok influencers who often post beauty tips, prank videos, and goofs. And we know that China has been amplifying Russian propaganda around the world. To what extent do we feel comfortable not knowing if the Chinese Communist Party has decided to intervene in the algorithm's treatment of these videos? To what extent will we feel comfortable with one if

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