03/15/2024, 14.46
Send to a friend

TikTok 'last frontier' in the war between Beijing and Washington

by John Ai

The clash was triggered by the threat to ban the platform voted by the US House of Representatives. In response, the Chinese authorities have promised to defend its interests. American public opinion is also divided over the social network's popularity. Despite concerns, in the run-up to the vote in both the US and Europe many leaders (including Biden) have opened accounts.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Beijing has accused the United States of "bandit logic", in response to the decision of the US House of Representatives to approve by a large majority a bill that would end up banning the use of the famous social network TikTok on American territory .

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce warns that it is ready to "take all necessary measures" to safeguard the interests of the company that owns the video sharing platform, linked to the government.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Wang Wenbin attacks US parliamentarians, underlining that the law involves a violation by the US of the principle of equal competition.

The social network TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, faces increasing pressure from regulators in several countries concerned about national security, user privacy, choice of algorithms and protection of minors.

In the US House of Representatives, both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have agreed on the need for a forced sale of TikTok, or the company will be banned from Apple or Google Play online stores in American territory.

The next phase foresees that the law will be subjected to scrutiny by the Senate. If approved and converted into law, it will have a significant impact and risks turning into a showdown with Beijing. However, the fate of the bill remains uncertain because Donald Trump - and likely challenger to Democrat Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential elections - is against the ban.

The US ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, rejected Beijing's criticisms, pointing out that the Chinese population does not have free access to many other social networks including X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, Facebook as well as Google. In an interview with Bloomberg, Burns himself said he found it “extremely ironic that government officials here [in China] would use Platform X to criticize the United States.”

It is estimated that American users of the "Chinese" social network are 170 million, almost half the population of the United States. Before the vote, TikTok urged users to appeal to lawmakers by showing their opposition to the law, displaying a pop-up notification in the App to do so. In this regard, many members of Congress have said that their offices have been inundated with a flood of protest calls.

In the face of a growing series of measures against TikTok from the US side, the company's CEO Shou Zi Chew has vowed to defend the platform and urged users to "make their voices heard". He also said the bill could put 300,000 U.S. jobs at risk and deprive small businesses that rely on the platform for their business of billions in revenue.

Washington fears that TikTok user data could be transmitted to Beijing, which would pose a threat to national security. Chinese law on the matter requires companies to provide user information to the government. And, in the past, TikTok discovered that the personal data of two American reporters was accessible to the company's engineers in China. The platform was also accused of censoring videos that exposed human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Former US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he is forming a group of investors to take over TikTok, although the company that owns it has already hinted that an acquisition is not an option at the moment. On the other hand, Beijing revised its export control rules in 2020, covering a number of sensitive technologies.

Experts are also worried about the platform's algorithm, which is considered both the flagship of the social network and the secret behind TikTok's successes (and concerns). In fact, the algorithm is attributed the ability to automatically suggest contents based on user preferences. The design is also a target for criticism.

Finally, analysts and experts point out that, even if the Chinese parent company has relinquished control, the threat remains unchanged since the algorithm is still controlled by China and, in this way, the government can still exploit the platform to push its own propaganda.

Given that an ever-increasing number of young people want to use TikTok, politicians are doing the same by creating pages on the platform to relaunch slogans and messages in the election campaign and thus win, at least according to their intentions, the vote and consensus of boys and girls. In the past, the Biden administration banned the installation of the social network on mobile devices or computers

overnatives, but still opened his own personal account to prepare for the presidential elections in November. In Europe, more and more politicians are using TikTok ahead of the EU Parliament elections in June.

Then there is a final aspect which concerns disinformation and that Beijing can use the platform to fuel propaganda and fuel its own political programs. After the entry into force of the European Law on Digital Services, the EU Commission launched an investigation into the platform, also warning of the risk that generative AI could be used to influence the vote. So did Canada, whose government initiated a national security review related to TikTok. The proceedings and regulations "against TikTok" follow one another all over the world and the debate is destined to last a long time.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
White House to stop Beijing's "imperialist" policy in the South China Sea
24/01/2017 15:55
For Fr Tom, abducted in Yemen, Holy Thursday prayer and adoration for the martyrs
21/03/2016 14:57
"We are optimistic," says Paul Bhatti as Rimsha Masih's bail hearing postponed to Friday
Tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang rise as Cold War fears cast a shadow over Korea
12/02/2016 15:14
Catholic music to promote dialogue in Ambon, the city of sectarian violence
17/10/2018 13:29


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”