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Why the focus of world authorities? MIGMG News

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The growing popularity of TikTok, the Chinese video streaming app, has alarmed lawmakers and privacy watchers around the world. What is the reason for this?

Tik Tok: Why the focus of global authorities?
Tik Tok: Why the focus of global authorities?


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While on the one hand this video streaming app is becoming more popular among the youth, on the other hand, lawmakers around the world are busy debating how Tik Tok should be subject to strict restrictions if they cannot outlaw it.

Although the European Union is bringing new legislation, according to which Tik Tok will be forced to strictly pay attention to harmful content, but many countries in the world, from the United States to Japan, think that this application should be banned. Regulate more or ban Tik Tok completely like India has done.

Regulators fear the Chinese government could use the app to promote its own interests. They warned that the government in Beijing could spread misinformation by gaining secret access to consumer data.

“There is a legitimate concern about possible surveillance by the Chinese government,” Estelle Maas, an expert at Access Now, a Brussels-based nonprofit that works on digital rights, told DW. In such a situation, there is a need to keep an eye on Tik Tok because it is the fastest growing social media in the world and most of its users are young people.

ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, has already faced intense scrutiny over how it collects and uses user data. But pressure on the company from regulators increased when it emerged last December that ByteDance employees had accessed the personal data of Western journalists to investigate information that had been leaked to the press.

In a statement to DW, a TikTok spokesperson described the incident as a “violation of the code of conduct by certain individuals” and said those individuals are no longer employed by ByteDance. He further said that following this incident, the company has tightened access to customer data. He also said that TikTok users’ data is stored in centers outside of China, but only a few employees in China have been given access to it. He also emphasized that the government in Beijing has never requested data on TikTok users, nor has such information ever been provided to them.

How Tik Tok became popular

No app in the history of the internet has become popular as quickly as Tik Tok. In a few years, the app has become the world’s leading social media platform for news and information with a growing number of users.

In 2018, ByteDance launched TikTok on the global market, modeled after the Chinese app Douyin. In September 2021, the platform announced that it had reached one billion monthly active users. It took eight years for Facebook to reach this milestone. According to download statistics, its number of users is continuously increasing. However, this information is not provided by Tik Tok due to company policy.

Analysts agree that TikTok’s “About You” page is the secret behind the app’s popularity. This site offers a series of videos that look different for each user. As soon as the user opens the app, it automatically starts analyzing content related to the user’s attention, such as what content the user wants to watch or how long a video is being watched. In this way, its algorithm quickly learns what content is of interest to the user.

Can Tik Tok be hijacked?

TikTok is increasingly used to access news and many major news outlets, including DW, regularly post on the platform. However, critics say the platform’s powerful algorithms can be used to deliberately spread misinformation.

Other US officials, including FBI Director Chris Wray, have warned that the government in Beijing in particular could misuse content posted on the app to influence public opinion or spread social unrest abroad.

A TikTok spokesperson denied the allegations, stressing that the platform tries to control the spread of misinformation as effectively as possible. He also noted that in addition to TikTok’s partnerships with various fact-checking organizations, users are notified when a video is uploaded by a government account or an account linked to influencers.

The European Union will soon introduce legislation that will require major social media platforms to provide information about their internal workings to EU-selected analysts. However, it has not yet been decided whether these platforms will include Tik Tok or not.

On the other hand, in the US House of Representatives this month, lawmakers will vote on a bill to ban TikTok. If the bill passes with a majority vote, US President Joe Biden’s legal administration could impose a nationwide ban on Talk Talk in the context of broader national interests.

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