TikTok Will Dance

Defense against a supposed Chinese threat by means of restrictions is not the solution

TikTok’s days are numbered — at least in Montana, the first North American state to prohibit the application’s use. According to Gov. Greg Gianforte, behind the cute choreographies there is continual surveillance by the Chinese Communist Party, with the objective of obtaining confidential information and manipulating the population.

It all started with little inoffensive dances, music, “lip-syncing” jokes, performances, recipes, pets and tutorials. The successful application, which has gained more than a billion users, was losing innocence until it became the center of a geopolitical dispute between the United States and China. TikTok has transformed into a symbol of the new Cold War. A symbol of the emancipation of malice.

But just TikTok? Just this most good-humored platform, used predominantly by young people? We know that by entering any social network we are accepting a pact: We offer personal information in exchange for entertainment. It’s no wonder they know our age, location, preferences, access devices, even the rhythm of our typing. If anything, they know secrets that even we don’t know we have. The big difference, however, is that ByteDance, TikTok’s owner, is a Chinese business and would be subject to a national security law that requires it to pass data to the regime.

There is no conclusive proof that the Chinese Communist Party is spying on users through the keyhole of TikTok. On the other hand, we know that its Chinese version, Douyin, censors content while promoting strategic posts, limiting the scope of ideas to make people more susceptible to influence and control. The solution that the United States has proposed for this imbroglio is to buy the Chinese platform’s assets, or alternatively, to ban the application altogether.

It’s exactly this Orwellian idea, the pretext of protecting the population, that is most worrying and where a great paradox dwells. Fighting against a supposed Chinese threat by means of restrictions is acting in an analogous way to the object we wish to combat. The premise of a free and open society is the guarantee of people’s right to consume the information they want, with efficient protection laws, but not blocking off room for innovation, products and services.

Whatever the result of this war, it’s already starting to have losers. We lose not just by the politicization of TikTok — which like all social networks has its side effects — but by the insane game that lies behind the innocent antics of the platform.

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About Jane Dorwart 203 Articles
BA Anthroplogy. BS Musical Composition, Diploma in Computor Programming. and Portuguese Translator.

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