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TikTok: China's Trojan Horse to Indoctrinate America


At the moment, ByteDance is in negotiations with Microsoft and Twitter to sell TikTok. Yet a sale will not by itself end the threat. Any new owner will have to go over line after line of code to insulate TikTok from Chinese interference. Even an
President Donald Trump on Thursday issued an executive order that just might save America’s democracy. Using emergency powers, he prohibited, after the expiration of a 45-day period, 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. The order effectively bans ByteDance’s TikTok, a video-sharing mobile application, from the United States at the end of 45 days. 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. 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.

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