Cybernews podcast: TikTok – to ban or not to ban?


The US government is still riding its never-ending quest to ban TikTok – aka America’s favorite video hosting app. But with over 150 million TikTok users living in the land of the free and the, ahem, social media influencer, are we really getting closer to putting that nail in the proverbial TikTok coffin?

Since early 2023, US lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have brought up national security concerns over the Chinese government siphoning off mass amounts of data from the American people to advance the interests of the Chinese government.

The American people have been told ad nauseam that the Communist nation is openly collecting our data to be used against us.

We’ve heard warnings about Chinese technology, Chinese hackers, Chinese drones, Chinese satellites, Chinese spy balloons, Chinese car manufacturers, and even secret Chinese police stations operating in the US.

We’ve been told it’s all part of a sinister attempt by Beijing to influence the American people, undermine US elections, steal corporate trade secrets, monitor dissidents living here in the US, and even create a genetic database of the American people to study population traits.

Yet, there has never been an issue more pressing on Capitol Hill over the past year than the battle over TikTok, and like the US government, we also can’t stop talking about it.

I have a theory. I think that if an American company bought TikTok, they would just make a much shittier version of it – without the amazing algorithm. Because, how would they have access to the technology, that’s basically, one of the best algorithms out there?

Cybernews journalist Niamh Ancell on a potential new law brewing in Congress that would give TikTok's parent company, the Chinese-owned ByteDance, six months to divest from the app, or face a ban in the US.

If it [China] does really control ByteDance and TikTok, why would it want to lose control over what it thinks is the pride of homegrown technology? One could even argue that this advanced technology, including the algorithm, is critical to any country's national interest.

Cybernews senior journalist Gintaras Radauskas on why China would likely block the sale of TikTok – or any other Chinese-born technology – even if just to prevent the secret algorithm from winding up in the hands of a foreign entity.

In this podcast episode, the Cybernews gang (or at least a few of them) discuss the latest TikTok “divest or else” bill passed by the House this week, whether it actually has legs, and the ways to circumvent a ban if it were to happen.

We’ll examine TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s reaction and then ruminate on what we know so far about the data-hungry app, its Chinese origins, and the potential threats to national security.

Finally, we try and decide if China and TikTok have become the social media fall guy in America for everything perceived wrong with the nation since emerging from Covid lockdowns – or if the deliciously addictive video app is truly a form of Chinese mind-control that will lead to the downfall of the US, if not the world?

Oh, and we’re just kidding about the world, or are we? You decide.


More from Cybernews:

Anti-scam firm exposes OpenAI API key

Philips Respironics admits to breach

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West Virginia hospital breach exposes sensitive patient data

New Apple Vision Pro update released

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