China is a rising world power, which means the United States is extremely hostile to everything related to China, which means the increasingly popular Chinese social media app TikTok is in Washington’s crosshairs. According to news sources the US government has opened a “national security review” of a two-year-old acquisition that saw American social media app Musical.ly bought by Beijing ByteDance Technology Co, the owner of TikTok.
Per Reuters, “TikTok has been growing more popular among U.S. teenagers at a time of growing tensions between Washington and Beijing over trade and technology transfers. About 60% of TikTok’s 26.5 million monthly active users in the United States are between the ages of 16 and 24, the company said this year.”
Therefore, “U.S. lawmakers have been calling in recent weeks for a national security probe into TikTok, concerned the Chinese company may be censoring politically sensitive content, and raising questions about how it stores personal data.”
So the US government is going after a social media app that’s popular with American adolescents because it’s concerned about censorship and data security. Call me crazy but I’m calling bullshit on that one. Since when does the US government, home to the National Security Agency, care about data security and privacy? Maybe it’s found Jesus. Or maybe it’s just full of shit. The latter seems a little more likely.
The investigation into the Musical.ly acquisition is a shot over the bow, just like the attacks on Huawei. The message is clear: the United States is prepared to challenge Chinese development at every turn, in every domain, including social media. In addition to the new Cold War with Russia, the US is instigating another one with China. Because the threat of nuclear war isn’t quite pressing enough yet.
Here’s an idea. Instead of demonizing the comparatively puny and impotent TikTok, why doesn’t the US get its own house in order and impose meaningful regulations on giant mass surveillance firms like Facebook and Google?