On September 14, the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee held hearings with top executives from social networking companies Meta, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok on the impact of their services on national security issues.
In this framework, lawmakers saw the Platform Accountability and Transparency Act (PATA) bill as a potential remedy to the problem of online polarization, as the law is designed to ensure transparency in social media platforms.
While representatives from the major networks were summoned, Tik Tok received heavy scrutiny; its global chief operating officer Vanessa Pappas had to respond about the risk facing U.S. users’ data on the Chinese social network.
Pappas stated that the company does not share U.S. user data with China.
TikTok is owned by Beijing-based technology company ByteDance, which raises serious questions about its ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
According to Forbes, 300 ByteDance workers and 50 TikTok employees work for different Chinese state media, such as Xinhua and People’s Daily, which are official mouthpieces of the Chinese regime.
When Senator Rob Portman asked Vanessa Pappas if the company was committed to “cut off all data and metadata flows with China,” the executive merely replied that “our final agreement with the U.S. government will satisfy all national security concerns.”
According to BuzzFeed News research, engineers in China had access to U.S. user data between September 2021 and January 2022.
Some 80 meetings of the Chinese network were leaked and reviewed by BFN, “everything is seen in China,” said a member of TikTok’s Trust and Safety department at one of the meetings in September 2021.
During his term in office, former President Trump warned about the threat to U.S. security posed by the Chinese social network and issued an executive order in August 2020 banning the app. However, the High Court overturned the measure in November of the same year.
Does Tik Tok have an algorithm with hidden agenda for the U.S.?
According to Fox News, the app is being used to degrade the moral values of American youth.
In late July 2022, news anchor Tucker Carson made a comparison. And he found marked differences in the content displayed by the app in both countries.
In China, TikTok is known as Douyin. And it shows videos such as a teenager challenging to quickly assemble a Rubik’s cube or a student wishing good things for his teacher’s son.
While U.S. users are offered videos that often feature women in revealing outfits, dancing, or showing off their bodies for the camera.
“This content is distributed according to an alleged algorithm—why is there such a difference?” criticized Carlson.
The truth is that the Chinese regime could use the data collected by TikTok as a means of espionage and to apply soft power. For this reason, Senator Ted Cruz called the app “a Trojan horse that the Chinese Communist Party can use to influence Americans through what they see, hear, and ultimately think.”
Dangerous Tik Tok viral challenges have led to child suicides
Viral challenges in children and adolescents have become fashionable since the use of social networks, and Tik Tok has been a pioneer in these “games” for young people.
However, there have been many cases where the challenges have become dangerous, putting people’s lives at risk, and some have even ended, unfortunately, in the child’s death.
Such is the case of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee, who performed the “blackout challenge,” viral among children on the Chinese social network. Battersbee suffered severe brain damage and had to be admitted to the Royal Whitechapel Hospital in London.
His parents engaged in a fierce legal battle to prevent their son from being disconnected from a respirator, but the British judiciary decided to end the boy’s life by authorizing authorities to disconnect him from the machine keeping him alive.
Archie Bettersbee’s case is not an isolated case, as Tik Tok challenges have already claimed several innocent children’s lives. Many parents have complained; some even sued Tik Tok for the serious consequences their children have suffered from using the network.
“Social networking companies are not doing enough to stop harmful content online. It’s out there and people are manipulating our children to do these challenges, it’s disgusting,” stated Hollie, mother of Archie Bettersbee.
However, Tik Tok has not been seen to take any action on the matter, and instead, its algorithms continue to push controversial content to young Westerners.