☠️ TikTok is "Too Big to be Safe"
The U.S. Seeks to Ban the most 💊 "Dangerous App" of them all.
So I’ve been thinking, does TikTok undermine western values and our mental health? Due to the lack of regulation in the social media space, mobile apps have become more nefarious in recent years.
Should TikTok be banned in the U.S?
TikTok is a "Digital Fentanyl" that is Damaging Mental Health at Scale
It’s time to recognize how serious a situation this is becoming with the use of A.I. in consumer apps.
I've started a new Subreddit for A.I. links and tools, come and share articles with me.
So let's get into it....
TikTok is as close to a dopamine-feedback loop "digital drug" as we have achieved as a civilization via a Mobile device.
However this poses risks that could become more serious in the years ahead if TikTok is not banned in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Australia, among other countries. In particular TikTok is damaging to mental health, to behavior modification injecting anti-Capitalism and anti-democracy values.
TikTok alters the ideology and behavior of GenZ and Alpha at scale due to the nature of its hypnotic content and how it can be used to inject influence and actively shape and modify behavior.
This is the "weaponization of A.I. and media" in a way that's far more sinister than an Entertainment app should be or ever would be without state interference.
In this article I argue why TikTok is a threat. U.S. Republican Senator Rand Paul on Wednesday blocked a bid to fast-track a ban of popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, which more than 150 million Americans use, citing concerns about free speech and uneven treatment of social media companies.
The CCP likely has already weaponization behavior modification at scale.
ByteDance has spent $billions marketing TikTok to become a major media influence and surveillance mechanism for the Chinese State; the CCP and the PLA. If Congress does not ban TikTok, they are advocating for China's version of Surveillance Capitalism to "take over the world". In this article I'm going to outline why I and others think this is.
As momentum has grown to ban TikTok over national security concerns, but this really is a story of A.I. gone rogue.
It may be that TikTok is systematically undermining trust in Capitalism, democracy and spreading pro-China values. Additionally it may be damaging the mental health of GenZ at scale. It's time to admit that TikTok is dangerous, as dangerous as an authoritarian regime controlling one of our major Media outlets. I hope you have some time to read this.
TikTok doesn't just demonstrate the evolution of surveillance capitalism, but behavior modification at scale that can attack the mental health of an entire nation as a weaponized “digital fentanyl” device. TikTok is leveraged to the 150 million U.S. active users in a particularly nefarious way.
The A.I. consumer app masquerading as an entertainment app still dominates app store downloads, among many other Chinese-made apps at the top of the rankings. Does it matter if TikTok is banned?
While Silicon Valley invented surveillance capitalism at companies like Google and Facebook for advertising purposes, rampant data collection and privacy intrusion, China has taken it a step further with more advanced facial recognition and predictive patterns creating products that (can) degrade the mental health of users in a systematic way. TikTok isn’t even allowed in China itself, they have Douyin which functions very differently.
Some GOPs have made valid points regarding TikTok as a “digital fentanyl” device because “it’s highly addictive and destructive and we’re seeing troubling data about the corrosive impact of constant social media use, particularly on young men and women here in America,” and also because it “effectively goes back to the Chinese Communist Party.” As Silicon Valley started the trend with algorithmic control on products like YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, China’s mobile ecosystem has always been more convenient and utilitarian but now they can mimic our own apps better than we can build them in the West.
Unfortunately Silicon Valley has created a regulatory environment free from restrictions where TikTok can be set lose on the mental health of our young people and A.I. can be let loose into the wild. From an ethical and trust & safety perspective this isn’t just a nationals security concern but is eroding trust in democracy, capitalism and our government itself. If this continues China will only become more powerful as the influence of America declines.
China is using the powerful A.I. behind TikTok to influence our opinions, beliefs, mental health states and profile us as consumers to be served more personalized advertisements as well as the selling of our data to third parties.
At the recent hearing, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew told U.S. lawmakers that China-based employees at its parent company ByteDance may still have access to some U.S. data from the app. This as U.S. lawmakers consider if banning and how to ban TikTok is the right thing to do.
I’ve written before about TikTok being a mental health timebomb of algorithmic influence. GenZ show patterns of more anxiety, less dating and are more pessimistic about the future as compared with other generations. GenZ are basically ‘the social experiment’ of mobile apps basically unregulated and weaponized for commercial and even nationalistic purposes.
TikTok’s maker ByteDance, has known ties with China’s Central government and CCP. As do most of the other BigTech China companies especially after the recent tech crackdown in that country. They must work with the Government and that includes the PLA’s mass-influence type campaigns for strategic purposes.
GenZ face greater financial stress, more mobile apps invasion of their triggers and a far more competitive and changing world due to the advent of things like Generative A.I. and automation on their future careers. That TikTok could be used to harm an entire generation isn’t so far fetched, India banned TikTok back in June of 2020. The reason? TikTok, along with 58 other Chinese-created apps, was banned completely in India by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on 29 June 2020, with a statement saying they were "prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order".
Back in 2020, former CIA officer Klon Kitchen framed this issue perfectly on 60 Minutes: Imagine you woke up one morning and discovered that China had distributed 100 million sensors across the United States. As it turns out, such a surveillance network already exists; it’s called TikTok. TikTok isn’t just the most advanced surveillance mechanism of global youth, it has the power to hypnotically alter mood, ideology, psychology, beliefs and some aspects of identity.
As more street drugs are being seeded in America from China, the “digital fentanyl” has been altering behavior more radically in recent years on TikTok. This is likely a form of cybersecurity information warfare if used in moderation and correctly by China. The U.S. has for years been unable to decide to ban TikTok or even come up with how to do it in a pervasive manner, albeit undermining principles of free market capitalism in the process.
ByteDance is an A.I. company masquerading as a consumer apps Entertainment company. GenZ grew up on YouTube, Snap and increasingly on TikTok. The mental health and subtle behavior modification of ideology of the app has not been well studied.
Moreover, TikTok has been caught numerous times in the act of surveillance. It has been caught using its network to spy on journalists, and one security researcher discovered that TikTok has been monitoring your keystrokes and taps. Lawmakers and intelligence officials fear that U.S. user data could get into the hands of the Chinese government via ByteDance. That’s because Chinese law allows the government to obtain inside information from companies based there for purported national security purposes. Data collected from apps like TikTok are basically the property of the CCP under Chinese law.
The very idea of privacy in surveillance capitalism mesh as China has created is not just impossible, nefarious behavior modification programs are nearly certainly at play and have been ongoing for years. The model of data capture for advertising Google and Facebook started has since evolved into something far more nefarious.
Banning TikTok is the ‘beginning of the end of Capitalism’ in the U.S., but not banning it is hurting the mental health of millions of Americans and young people all over the world. If the U.S. bans TikTok without reforming privacy and behavior modification in apps at scale, it will only be a temporary end to the larger problem. Unfortunately the U.S. does not show the capability or willingness to de-weaponize social media at large.
The grilling in Congress of TikTok’s CEO was not just superficial but displayed the incredible ignorance of American GOPs about TikTok’s ability for behavior modification and mental health corruption. The display not only lacked transparency but lacked a coherent framework for how to deal with a social media that has led to significant ideological changes already in American democracy in the last decade.
The Ideological Weaponization of A.I.
ByteDance with TikTok have created an A.I. recommendation engine with facial recognition that is far superior to that of YouTube, Instagram or another western equivalent. China’s superiority with facial recognition allows them to accomplish triggering and behavior modification that no other app in the world is capable of doing.
As Axios correctly notes, Mobile apps are one of the most powerful vectors for expanding trade and exporting soft power, and China is winning not just with TikTok but many of the apps it exports. That TikTok is developing into a media empire the equivalent of YouTube (far surpassing Instagram now in actual ‘influence’), China is leading a key culture vector of how young people see the world and are able to shape its influence in a systematica long-term manner.
ByteDance, the Chinese developer of TikTok, "can no longer be accurately described as a private enterprise" and is instead intertwined with China's government, according to a report [PDF] submitted to Australia's Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media. When Governments get too close with powerful BigTech companies, you can expect problems for how it can influence society.
TikTok is also a data-collection at scale project that far exceeds American equivalents. TikTok also poses a unique national security concern with respect to AI. Training an AI system requires lots and lots of data; China can use the massive data provided by TikTok to train its own AI, according to The Hill.
Not regulating social media is the same thing today as not regulating algorithms and A.I. Unfortunately American monopolies haven’t done a great job of moderating their own content or creating products that are safe for the mental health of young people and children. That TikTok pushes this to extremes is not surprising, given the psychological dopamine-hook engineering of app designers and product people in the mobile tech industry. TikTok will show, it’s easier to influence “addicts” to the fentanyl app than new users.
The Australian report (March 14th, 2023), by a quartet of researchers, was hailed as "the most comprehensive exploration yet of the CCP's ties to TikTok" by Brendan Carr, commissioner of the United States' Federal Communications Commission. India's IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar retweeted Carr's remarks.
China’s BigTech Are Not Free
The report as summarized by the Register, alleges that China's government noticed as Douyin – the Chinese version of TikTok – boomed. Beijing then commenced a campaign employing its "legal and extra-legal mechanisms for influencing, coercing and controlling China's nominally privately-owned technology companies."
Just like the U.S. government uses Azure and AWS in the Cloud, the Chinese Government partner very closely with its own companies such as ByteDance, Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent and others. But in China it obviously goes much further than mere partnerships, corporate entities have become like extensions of the will of the CCP. We’ve all known this since the tech crackdown in China a few years ago.
TikTok is just another tool of this mechanism. It’s even more important due to its size, influence and power as a tool for indoctrination in the hypnosis of the dopamine-feedback loop, that is, a form of psychological behavior modification with “national security” like ramifications at scale.
The report goes into depth about China’s political interference measures and abilities. They state, In the absence of policy action, TikTok could be the next challenge to democracies’ resilience against authoritarian interference. I actually think when you reduce the mental health resilience of users, influencing their ideologies and opinions becomes a lot easier.
Given rising student loans and the rising costs of housing and healthcare it wouldn’t be difficult to get GenZ and Alpha a bit against America’s unequal version of Capitalism that it currently flaunts as “free-market”.
Social media has already radicalized and bifurcated ideological lines along America’s bizarre two-party state type system. TikTok can sow further ideological seeds in the chaos and not simply practice censorship but interference that would be difficult to prove.
There are various trends on TikTok that are toxic to teen safety in any number of ways. Yet TikTok is entrenched in the usage of people below the age of 25, and even banning TikTok would be controversial (something Donald Trump was unable to do). Following the hearing, Ocasio-Cortez made her first ever TikTok to speak out against a potential ban – highlighting the unprecedented nature of such an action.
TikTok is a Success of China’s Plan
China is getting more powerful in terms of cultural influence and media via TikTok and other apps. How much A.I. is weaponized against democracy and the mental health of U.S. citizens is debatable, but highly likely.
If ByteDance, one of the most innovative startups of our generation, is a ‘hybrid’ state-private entity, we have to consider how they have gotten so good at creating mobile apps and how they might be able to influence us. China is at least five to ten years ahead in mobile video’s use in society as compared with the West.
China’s version of Surveillance Capitalism isn’t just more sophisticated the the ad-networks of the West, but better regulated and more able to accomplish the will of the state.
I have studied Zang Yiming (the founder of ByteDance) in depth and he is a genius app creator and product engineer. Beijing in 2009 decided to shut down his Twitter clone called Fanfou. In China you need to follow the Censorship rules very closely or else there is no business future. He’s now 39, with a networth of around $45 Billion US.
In 2022, a third of U.S. adults got their news from TikTok. 1 in 6 American teens say they are on TikTok “almost constantly”. TikTok is not about dance videos, it’s about control over the the future of media with powerful A.I. surveillance and behavior modification mechanisms.
With apps like TikTok, China is winning the future of A.I., media, and consumer social media apps. China’s dominance in personalized recommendation with TikTok in A.I. is nearly “too big to fail”.
However its dangers may only increase as we approach the 2024 U.S. Presidential elections. The administration of US president Joe Biden has demanded that TikTok parent company divest itself of its stakes in the popular video app or face a possible ban in America. However China is not one to be bullied.
TikTok’s use of A.I. is a Smiling Tiger or Trojan Horse and demonstrates China’s capacity to build products that can disrupt American ones. If TikTok is not banned, it will supplant Facebook’s family of apps and their influence in part. If it is banned, it will strengthen how Amazon, Apple and Microsoft go after advertising. Neither outcome is particularly healthy for the future of the internet or A.I. regulation.
It is possible that TikTok’s subversion of the mental health of Americans to make them more suspectable to ideological influence was one of the objectives set out by Wang Huning. He advised China’s former leaders Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, and now he advises Xi Jinping. W.H. isn’t just a leading ideologist, he understands the layers of warfare against the West. Wang Huning much prefers the shadows to the limelight, I don’t know of a better shadowland than TikTok’s A.I. influencing us. If anyone understood how to create a media that could harm America, it’s W.H.
If TikTok is banned, there are other apps by ByteDance ready to move in. So you’ve never heard of Lemon8? “Lemon8's customized content is specifically made for you.” That mean it’s an A.I. consumer app.
Thanks for reading!