Tick-Tock, TikTok

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified for hours yesterday before the House Energy and Science Committee and was hammered from the left and the right. Washington observers came away with the impression that it was a huge disaster for TikTok. But content creators on TikTok were less impressed by the Washington establishment.

Full disclaimer: I’m a TikTok user and I love it. It’s a great tool to expand my audience and it’s fun to make 30-second timelapse videos of my cartoons to music. But I can see the concerns about it. Even when I was a smoker I was not a fan of tobacco companies.

During yesterday’s hearing, the representatives kept trying to pin Chew down on TikTok being a tool for China to spy on users in the United States. The best they could get was “no,” and the best they could do was, “Nyuh-huh.”

Daniel Castro, the vice president of a science and tech policy think tank tweeted, “Congressional hearings would be much better if Committee rules prohibited loaded questions. Not all questions can be answered with yes/no answers.”
It’s like it’s the first time this crowd has ever watched a congressional hearing. And this committee didn’t feature the likes of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, or Jim Gym Jordan.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, the senior editor at Reason, tweeted, “TikTok’s CEO keeps essentially saying he’s not an agent of the Chinese Communist Party and the lawmakers are like… BUT AREN’T YOU ACTUALLY? like he’s going to trip up Scooby Doo villain style if they keep saying it.”
Will you admit to being a spy if I give you a Scooby Snack?

TikTok is a private company in China, but China is an authoritarian state. Is anything totally private in China? The government owns one percent of ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, and has placed a government official on the board. Financial Times describes the one percent share as a “golden share” investment, which is a nominal share that can outvote all other shares in certain circumstances.

Surely we need to protect our nation from China’s spying, but there’s a fine line between security and xenophobia. What information is China going to get from American users that are not already being data mined by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and maybe even LinkedIn (the most inept and useless app since MySpace)? Several representatives from yesterday’s hearing gloated over their performance and questioning of Chew…on Twitter. Couldn’t at least one of them detect the irony in that?

Eva, director of cybersecurity at Electronic Frontier Foundation tweeted, “If you think the US needs a TikTok ban and not a comprehensive privacy law regulating data brokers, you don’t care about privacy, you just hate that a Chinese company has built a dominant social media platform.”

The TikTok kids are right in that this was a bunch of old people screaming about something they don’t understand. The entire hearing was basically, “Get off my lawn.”

Olivia Julianna, director of Politics and government affairs at Gen-Z for Change was upset TikTok’s CEO wasn’t given much of a chance to talk, tweeting, “Watching the hearing on TikTok right now, and the amount of leading questions and interruption to the CEO trying to answer questions is so extremely unprofessional and irritating. This is a hearing— let us ACTUALLY HEAR him.”

Several TikTokers TikToked about Chew not being allowed to speak, like this one…and this one too.

And are Republicans truly upset over Chinese spies when they were fine with Russia meddling with our election? You can’t say you care about security when you defend white nationalist terrorists who attacked our Capitol building. A lot of Republicans may still be chafed that TikTok users played a huge part in Donald Trump believing he was going to have a huge rally in Tulsa in 2020, only to discover a very tiny crowd of MAGAts.

I’m all for the government banning TikTok’s app on government-owned devices. Corporations can do the same thing. In fact, it’s probably smart to ban most apps on government and corporate-owned devices. Angry Birds knows where you live.

Both parties are coming down hard on TikTok. Both Trump and Biden have threatened to ban it in the United States. But I personally believe the Republican outrage is all Sarah Cooper’s fault.

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  1. Brilliant write up on this to go with a brilliant cartoon, want to piss off the Gen Z crowd, take away their communication methods, plus the 17+ year old who will vote next can’t show their new way to eat cereal. I don’t understand all the technology methods to communicate, so if Tiktok dies, a new one will be out before trump is indicted. Cheers and have a great weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. TIKTOK today something else tomorrow. The beat goes on.
    Clay, I am enjoying your blog links (and I especially liked watching the creation of your cartoons with music in the background via the tiktoc link in this blog).
    Mark Twain, “There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”
    I wonder if Edward Snowden is on TicTok?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. China-bashing at the top of the heap. Expect THAT to trickle down.
    Not that I want to see it, but this won’t sit well with neo-nazis and white supremicists. And they won’t use words to bash Chinese Americans, they will use weapons that harm real bodies. This is how I see the MAGAts responding…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed. …

      One recalls the 2007-08 financial crisis resulting in the biggest, and perhaps the most culpably corrupt, mainstream U.S. bankers NOT being criminally indicted. Rather, they were given their usual multi-million-dollar performance bonuses (as though nothing ever happened) via taxpayer-funded bailout.

      In those big bankers’ stead, the justice department, in a classically cowardice act, only charged some officials with a relatively small-potatoes Chinese-American community bank that couldn’t really fight back and who looked different from most other Americans.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “ Angry Birds knows where you live.”

    You don’t know the half of it. As regular as clockwork, more reliable than Old Faithful, Angry Birds Evolution hangs up my iPhone XS MAX every time I start the game, and then frequently during gameplay.
    And by “hangs up”, I mean it grabs control of the CPU and/or iOS and freezes EVERYTHING, including itself, for several minutes. I can’t even use VOLUME UP-VOLUME DOWN-POWER/LOCK to reboot the iPhone. And of course any controls visible on the screen don’t work either.
    Oddly enough, if a YouTube video is playing in the little pop-up window when ABE hangs up, the video will continue playing, with occasional glitches courtesy of ABE, but I still can’t use any of the controls in the pop-up window.

    Ain’t technology wonderful?


  5. In the case of Beijing’s influence on Canadian elections, I cannot see why the Chinese government would find favorable to its manipulative interests a minority governance in Ottawa, as claimed by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

    Minority governments are likely the closest Canadians will get to fully democratic proportional representative governance.

    With Canada’s FPTP electoral system, which barely qualifies as democratic within the democracy spectrum, majority governments are the least resistant to external influences and interests, which also include those of big business. As it is, Canada is heavily steered by domestic corporate interests, sometimes through implicit or explicit economic intimidation, e.g. threats of moving jobs and capital.

    It’s likely why such powerful interests generally oppose attempts at changing from FPTP to proportional representation electoral systems of governance, the latter which dilutes the potency of external influences and interests.

    Minority governance requires that more political representation — through a second [or more] party’s leadership, MPs/MLAs and their electorates — has to be seriously considered and even accommodated, unlike with low-representation FPTP-elected majority governance naturally fully controlled by a single party via its prime minister’s office [PMO].

    Therefore, a majority government, which has a relatively small portion of the country’s populace actually electorally represented, would likely be easier for external or foreign interests to manipulate than a minority government.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Here are the important things to think about … “What information is China going to get from American users that are not already being data mined by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and maybe even LinkedIn (the most inept and useless app since MySpace)? Several representatives from yesterday’s hearing gloated over their performance and questioning of Chew … on Twitter. Couldn’t at least one of them detect the irony in that?”


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