A recent report from the Wall Street Journal claims that Chinese-owned tech company TikTok is attempting to win favour with U.S. lawmakers by revealing more details of its operations.
The Wall Street Journal reports that in an effort to improve transparency with US regulators and lawmakers, TikTok, the Chinese-owned video-sharing app, has disclosed specifics of a $1.5 billion plan to reorganize its US operations. The action is being taken as the business continues discussions with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), an executive-branch committee tasked with deciding how TikTok can continue to be used in the US.
As federal and state politicians have sought to ban the app on devices issued by the government, discussions with US officials and lawmakers have become more urgent for TikTok. Additionally, a bill that would forbid TikTok from operating in the US is being considered by Congress. The company has refuted claims made by lawmakers that the Chinese government could access U.S. users’ data on TikTok or influence what Americans see on the platform. Despite these claims, TikTok has been caught spying on users multiple times.
To convince potential allies in Washington that it can function independently of its parent company, China-based ByteDance, TikTok is relying on details of its planned reorganization and pledged actions to ensure oversight of its content-recommendation algorithms. TikTok is attempting to tread a fine line in discussions with US officials, according to people familiar with the conversations. Its objective is to keep TikTok under US government control while also increasing transparency in the app’s operations and dividing it into a separate division run by US government-approved personnel.
An official from TikTok stated that the company thinks the proposal, which includes layers of independent and governmental oversight, addresses concerns about user data access and content recommendation. “We are not waiting for an agreement to be in place,” she said. “We’ve made substantial progress on implementing that solution over the past year and look forward to completing that work to put these concerns to rest.”
Breitbart News reporter Alana Mastrangelo laid out a convincing case for why TikTok ought to be banned from the United States in November. Amongst the reasons for a TikTok ban are the app’s serious negative impacts on children and teens, groups in which the app is extremely popular.
The Danger for Kids and Teens
China is a hostile foreign country that is using TikTok to get U.S. teens to participate in trends that are dangerous and life-threatening.
In September, the FDA warned parents of a deadly new TikTok challenge that involves children cooking chicken in NyQuil, “presumably to eat.” The trend on the China-owned app was just the latest example of a dangerous stunt spread to young Americans.
Another challenge seen on TikTok in 2020 involved urging users to take large doses of the allergy medication Benadryl (diphenhydramine) to induce hallucinations. The challenge resulted in reports of teens being rushed to the hospital, and in some cases, dying.
Last year, school officials spoke out against TikTok’s “bathroom challenge,” which encouraged students to vandalize school restrooms. The challenge, also known as “devious licks,” involved videos depicting vandalism of trophy cases, hallways, and classrooms, as well as theft of fire extinguishers, school signs, and other property.
To add insult to injury, the Chinese app also rewards U.S. users by making them go viral or become “TikTok famous” for behaving foolishly. On one hand, this is accomplished by posting frivolous dance videos, but on the other, it is for popularizing dangerous trends or posting sexual content.
TikTok’s algorithm also makes it easier for teenagers to go viral and gain internet fame when they post sexualized videos. This has also taken a toll on teens’ mental health, according to mental health professionals. And the Chinese company seemingly tailors its algorithms to have different impacts on various communities. For example, a lawsuit filed in July alleges that TikTok pushes especially violent content on black teenagers.
Unlike other social media platforms — such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter — TikTok makes it much easier and faster for teens to obtain what they perceive as “fame” on the app. This fame can come with a terrible price.
Read more at the Wall Street Journal here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan