Social media expert breaks down national security concerns surrounding TikTok

Social media expert breaks down national security concerns surrounding TikTok

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Growing concerns are being raised about the video-sharing social media app TikTok, now one of the most downloaded and used apps of its kind in the United States.

National security officials and several Republican governors are now moving to ban its use on government devices — over concerns about Chinese data collection.

The US Senate has unanimously approved a bill that would ban the popular video platform from devices issued by federal agencies.

A total of 12 states now have such a ban in place — including Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

“The biggest concern here with TikTok from a national security perspective is what the Chinese government can do with this information if they get their hands on all the data about our citizens and how they can potentially use the platform to interfere in our elections through propaganda. mix,” said Marc Berkman, the CEO of the Organization for Social Media Safety.

Most social media platforms collect and track data from their users as a way to refine their algorithms and market an optimal user experience. Still, companies like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp owner Meta, and other US-based companies are bound by US laws and policies, while ByteDance, which owns TikTok, is based in China.

“Of course, the Chinese government has different incentives than for-profit companies in democratic countries around the world,” Berkman said. “So there is a security difference in risk level here.”

A bill sponsored by US Sen. Florida’s Marco Rubio would ban all transactions with ByteDance and any other company from an adversary nation.

Most experts say passing such a law could present a challenge, given that more than 136 million US users log on to the site each month. This is the largest part of TikTok’s global user base and more than twice the number of users than the country in second place, Indonesia.

More than half of TikTok creators are between the ages of 18 and 24, representing 53% of the app’s base.

Berkman emphasized the importance of educating young people, as well as ourselves, about how to apply a healthy level of scrutiny to the online content we consume.

“For all of us across the country, it’s incredibly important to teach students critical literacy skills when it comes to news media, obviously in a very unbiased way, because misinformation and propaganda happens on social media on a regular basis from the bad actor . , certainly hostile foreign countries — that happens on a number of different social media platforms,” Berkman said. “So we need to build resilience through education and skills, especially with young people across the country. It’s an urgent task.”

TELL US: What do you think about the proposed bans and restrictions on TikTok?

If you have TikTok and you’re wondering if you should delete the app, according to Berkman, if you’re not ready to ditch TikTok, he said awareness is the most important thing to take away from this. He said you basically just need to know how these apps work and that way you can apply the appropriate level of skepticism to everything you see.

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