Dancing could be described as a series of movements used to express feelings, sensations or ideas. Virtually all known human cultures anywhere on the planet have left records of the practice of some kind of dance. 

The most primitive societies generally associated their dances to the request of good harvests to the gods, rituals of gratitude or simple veneration. With the development of cultures, movements were perfected through training and showed greater complexity.

With urbanization, people began to dance in small groups, in the squares, or in parties, seeking to celebrate, to communicate something or just for entertainment. 

The discotheques and pubs of the 20th century reduced the dance constellation to small groups or couples that danced simultaneously, although they often did not interact with each other. The dancers no longer follow predetermined and organized movements, training is not necessary at all.

In the 21st century, the app TikTok triggered the practice of solo dance, with millions of people spending hours in front of their mobile phone screens trying to get the most views from their “friends” or online followers.

There is no intention here to make a critique of solo dancing nor question modern styles. Rather, the idea is to focus on the medium, TikTok, which has made these styles popular by developing a dangerous circle of dependance and addiction to the app, while forcing all its users to hand over their personal data to a company whose headquarters is suspiciously linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

TikTok has come to tell children, teenagers and young adults that it’s a good idea to lock yourself in your room and sensually wiggle your hips in front of a device, to the enjoyment of CCP spies, the joy of supposed “friends” or worse that of strangers and potential pedophiles who surf this social media in search of innocent and vulnerable victims. 

Having said all this, TikTok does not seem to be an application that will be remembered for helping to bring modern Western civilization out of its decadence, quite the contrary, it seems to have deepened and spread a certain tendency towards immorality and loss of righteous and traditional values.

TikTok encourages lustful and sexualized behavior in minors

One of the main concerns about the social media TikTok is the large amount of highly sexualized content it has. As it is well known, there is an abundance of videos of users, mainly women wearing provocative dresses, making sensual movements and generally accompanied by music with lyrics that incite sex and debauchery. 

Many may say that in free countries where individuals can decide what to do with their bodies and their privacy, we should not be alarmed by such matters. They are partly right, but partly wrong, especially considering that more than 30 percent of TikTok users in the United States are children under the age of 14, as reported by the New York Times. 

Reports recently surfaced revealing a disturbing new trend in TikTok videos: live one-on-one footage, usually of a young woman in a dress, lying on a bed and simulating having sex with a seemingly non-existent or imaginary partner just off camera.

The biggest problem with this type of videos is that they are not directed only to closed circles as with other social media where the content is generally viewed by your “friends” or followers. TikTok’s main menu is called “videos for you,” which is a personalized feed based on an algorithm that delivers content it believes users will enjoy and get trapped with.

While these videos can be reported, reports indicate that they are becoming increasingly prevalent, and before they disappear from the web they may have been viewed by millions of minors—children and teens—who are already normalizing this type of content and imitating the controversial practice.

TikTok is recommendation first approach, its algorithm is known to be attuned to the type of content users want to see. It can be very dangerous to give free access to explicit images, videos and situations to the desires promoted by the innocent curiosity of child and teenage users, especially considering that at least a third of those interacting on TikTok are minors.

Depression and suicide in children due to abuse of TikTok and other social media

With more than 3 billion downloads, mostly by children and adolescents, the TikTok platform has rung alarm among specialists in children’s mental health who warn about the dangerous effects that the social media is having on children.

According to research such as that published by the renowned child psychotherapist John Byrne, children’s frequent use of TikTok is associated with serious psychiatric disorders that often leads to serious depression, suicide or causing self-harm.

One of TikTok’s features is to provide a stream of videos uploaded by users and the recommendation of additional clips based on the videos being viewed. These recommended clips that are imposed are sometimes extreme, anxiety-producing, totally toxic and at the same time addictive. For example, teenagers who are interested in hunting or military life may soon come across pictures of serial killers and descriptions of successful or failed murders.

Other users who, due to their taste and searches, show depressive symptoms, have reported coming across, without looking for them, videos with live suicides, self-harm or tutorials on how to carry out a safe and “suffering-free” death.

At the same time, it has been demonstrated that TikTok causes strong sleep disorders, resulting in a great distraction of routine tasks for children and adolescents. It also generates a psychologically addictive behavior in which users come to lose track of the time they spend in front of the screens. 

TikTok is especially dangerous for children and adolescents who already suffer from mental health problems, specifically depression and eating disorders. According to Byrne’s presentation, within a week of opening an account, users with these characteristics are almost certain to start viewing content associated with suicide or promoting how to hurt their own bodies on their screens. 

While other social media such as Instagram and Facebook are also dangerous to the mental health of children and adolescents, in these cases the content accessed by users is mostly that shared by their friends and followers, unlike TikTok which is more oriented to users viewing content produced by strangers but associated with their tastes or interests. 

These strangers can be people motivated by completely perverse interests that in many cases cause disasters in the mental health of those who are going through delicate moments or suffering some kind of pathology that affects their emotional stability.

So perverse is often the content posted on the platform that, in December 2021, Candie Frazier, a content moderator who reviewed TikTok videos, sued the company alleging that it failed to protect her from suffering severe psychological trauma after “constant” exposure to violent videos showing sexual assault, beheadings, suicides and other graphic scenes, reported the Washington Post.

Both Frazier and other moderators are exposed for several hours daily to extreme and graphic violence, including videos of “genocide in Myanmar, mass shootings, raped children and mutilated animals” in an apparently erratic effort to filter such content. 

Pedophiles use TikTok as a search tool

Undoubtedly one of the least desired consequences of TikTok use is related to pedophilia. The platform provides children and adolescents around the world with the tools to be sexually exploited without them necessarily realizing it. 

Among the many “challenges” promoted by the application are those that propose young girls to dance erotically, jump on the floor, spread their legs and do “twerking”, among other sexualized dance moves. 

Under this same logic of “challenges”, videos abound of underage girls talking about their sexual experiences, dressing (and undressing) erotically to get “likes”. 

This content, often posted live, is a pedophile’s dream, and these young children are usually unaware of the perversity they are exposed to and they can awaken on the other side of the screen. 

The application has enhanced the tendency to sexualize girls and boys of 12 or 13 years of age, normalizing and exposing them to content and situations they must be protected against.

Because of their age, their innocent minds do not have the sufficient maturity to face or even understand certain complex issues, which can lead them to have wrong or misleading ideas about life, love, sexual relations, etc., which can truly harm them and make them take decisions that they will later regret.

In this sense, TikTok presents two problems. On the one hand, it is evident that the platform is a magnet for pedophiles and abusers who, in many cases, encourage minors to undress and show their private parts through private messages. In the worst cases, they manage to arrange in-person dates or extort them to get them to continue sending intimate material.

On the other hand, the platform normalizes the sexualization of children by promoting a culture where, for example, girls are taught to spread their legs on the floor and gyrate for the camera in their underwear mimicking a dance initially performed by an adult woman in a “sexy” way.

Already in 2019, a report in the British newspaper The Sun denounced that upon downloading the app, deeply disturbing and sexually suggestive comments could be observed within minutes, below videos of young schoolgirls innocently singing or dancing.

Among the messages could be read some users telling young girls to “show me those legs, baby, come on” and describing them as “sexy”, “hot”, “delicious” and other obscenities.

One clearly unhinged user said “I’ll risk getting arrested…. I don’t care” underneath a video of a schoolgirl singing to the camera, while another wrote “How much do you charge per hour?”

Susan McLean, an Australian computer security expert spoke to the Daily Mail and said, “TikTok is not a safe app and there are many concerns, not the least bullying and grooming by predators.”

Unlike other apps such as Instagram and Facebook, although these have also been reported for causing addiction and harm to children, TikTok is much weaker in terms of security restrictions to prevent the actions of pedophiles.

First of all, it does not require confirmation of the person’s existence, meaning that the user can be made up profiles which gives sexual predators much more anonymity. And, this computer security expert was able to confirm that the platform does not routinely delete the accounts of those users who have been flagged as “potential abusers.”

The CCP and TikTok

The controversy surrounding the TikTok social media does not end at the level of how potentially harmful it is for the world’s youth. It also encompasses another worrying aspect which has to do with geopolitics and national security issues.

Serious accusations claim that the Chinese social media is closely linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and that the Chinese intelligence apparatus is using it as a tool to acquire data and information on the behavior and trends of millions of Western users for geopolitical and military purposes.

At the same time, cybersecurity experts are concerned that the Chinese regime could use TikTok to spread propaganda or censor Western audiences.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter addressing the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in September 2021 saying:

“The CIA should be warning about the risks associated with TikTok, and other foreign apps developed in authoritarian surveillance states, not normalizing them (…) the CIA should be focused on the most pressing challenges of our time, including threats from the CCP and terrorist networks.”

Rubio’s letter was sent after former U.S. employees of the popular social media sparked a strong controversy by confirming that the parent company Byte Dance, records, controls and makes decisions on absolutely everything that happens in the U.S. version of TikTok.

As reported by whistleblowers to CNBS, Byte Dance has free access to the data of U.S. users of the platform and has absolute control of the entire decision-making process and product development of TikTok in Los Angeles.

Research conducted by URL marketing firm Genius found that TikTok and YouTube collect more personal user data than any other social media application.

However, unlike YouTube, which collects your data for Google as the user agrees to when confirming privacy terms, TikTok allows third-party trackers on its platform, meaning you don’t know where your data goes. Those third-party trackers can also track your activity even after you close the app. 

Despite the success of the TikTok app in India, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology decided in June 2020 to ban downloads of the app on the grounds of serious flaws in the privacy and security guarantees offered by the Chinese developer.

The ministry’s order stated that TikTok and the other blocked Chinese apps are: “detrimental to India’s sovereignty and integrity, India’s defense, state security and public order”.

Former President Donald Trump, the leading public figure to denounce and attempt to curb the Chinese communist-led platform’s subjugation, sought to ban the app through an executive order in 2020, arguing that his goal was to protect national security and prevent Beijing from exploiting the app to collect user data or spread propaganda.

In June 2021, President Biden rescinded that order and replaced it with a process to examine whether apps controlled by a foreign adversary poses risks to U.S. national security or to Americans’ sensitive personal data.

Trump’s legal battle against TikTok

Former President Donald Trump, after repeatedly warning about the dangerousness of the social media TikTok, announced in August 2020 that, if necessary, he would ban the app in the United States, kicking off a major legal battle that continues to this day, NBC News reported.

“We are looking at TikTok. We may be banning TikTok. We may be doing other things as well,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We’re looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.”

The former president’s main argument for taking on the Chinese platform was that the CCP demands that it share user data with the regime, putting the cybersecurity of the government, U.S. businesses and citizens at constant risk.

A day later, President Trump signed an executive order through which he banned Tik Tok and WeChat business transactions after 45 days of the order being signed. The “prohibited transactions” included, for example, agreements allowing the app to be available in app stores and banning advertising on the platform.

In parallel Trump announced that he was giving any U.S. company until September 15, 2020, to buy TikTok or he would ban it. If a local company were to buy the platform, it would be much easier to control the operation of the platform and to bring it under the weight of the law in case of non-compliance with any U.S. regulations. At that time Walmart and Microsoft, among other firms, were presented as the main interested parties, but in the end an agreement was not reached and the sale did not become effective.

After the deadline passed and both TikTok and WeChat began to be banned in the United States, a Federal Court cancelled the ban stating that TikTok’s lawyers demonstrated that the Department of Commerce probably exceeded its authority in trying to ban the social media’s activity in local territory.

The legal battle continued and the Trump administration appealed the court’s ruling. 

But a few days later Democrat Joe Biden assumed the U.S. presidency and within months signed an executive order revoking former President Trump’s ban on the Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat, arguing that his administration will conduct its own review of the apps linked to the Chinese regime.

Biden’s executive order was signed in the same week that TikTok updated its privacy policy for the United States, adding a section stating that the app will collect biometric information, including users’ “facial and voice prints.”

TikTok can now collect information about images and audio found in content posted by users, such as objects, landscapes, geographic location, images of faces, voices, features and body attributes. All this information, which determines the behavior and consumption behaviors of Americans, is extremely useful for certain sectors, which may be interested in doing a lot of damage to both the United States and the rest of the world. 

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