TikTok: Really just innocent fun?

The first post in the CYGO contributor blog series.

What is TikTok?

According to Wikipedia, “TikTok is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based internet technology company founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming. It is used to create short dance, lip-sync, comedy and talent videos.”

By that brief definition, TikTok is portrayed as a place for creators to express themselves, as well as something that could harbor an interesting and diverse community.

TikTok stifles true creativity and free expression.

TikTok is filled with unoriginal content. It is dominated by a majority of people recreating existing content including already popular mainstream soundtracks and such. It’s essentially a community of people beating dead horses. Considering the majority of its users recreate content; there is no true creative content shared through the platform.

It is also reasonable to assume that considering TikTok is a Chinese company (all Chinese companies are directly under the control of the Chinese government), that content posted on TikTok must conform to the ideals of the Chinese government, which can lead to user censorship, hence the loss of any sort of freedom of expression.

According to The Washington Post, last November a TikTok user located in New Jersey, Feroza Aziz, was suspended from the app after posting content which was openly anti-Chinese.

Leaked documentation from the company illustrates that they are making an attempt to censor content which is political or otherwise controversial in nature.

TikTok actively mines user data.

According to CNET news, a class action lawsuit was filed in December 2019 against ByteDance/TikTok by a California resident.

The lawsuit alleges that user content, such as videos only saved as drafts rather than videos which are published; without any user consent.

California resident Misty Hong in her lawsuit also claimed that she installed TikTok on her device but did not create an account, yet some time later she discovered that the application had created one on her behalf without permission.

TikTok not only disrespects its users’ privacy, but could be a U.S. national security risk.

Videos published on TikTok often contain close-ups of its users faces. Considering the Chinese government has access to essentially all of the data on ByteDance’s Chinese servers, such videos could be used for surveillance purposes, or even worse, for facial recognition software and/or databases.

It poses such a risk to United States national security that the Defense Department has advised government employees to cease use of TikTok, which has prompted the U.S. military to ban the app from all government-owned devices.

You’re funding all of this.

When using TikTok, users are served advertisements which provide the company with its substantial revenue. By using the application, you are funding a corporation which is mining user data, using such user data to serve targeted ads, and likely in some way to benefit the Chinese government. If all users came together and deleted their TikTok accounts as well as the application from their devices, we could help to curb these issues to an extent.

Thanks for reading! I look forward to continuing this blog series in an effort to further aid our community and readers in taking control of their privacy.

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