The news about social networks, particularly among young people, is deeply worrying: Facebook is in rapid decline now that its owner is focused on monopolizing the metaverse and virtual reality while failing to understand the implications of his actions, and in turn facilitating the emergence of another monster.
That monster is none other than China’s ByteDance, and its creation, TikTok: more than a billion active users now spend more than an hour and a half a day on the platform, much more time than they do watching television. Its popularity is breaking all records, surpassing Facebook in influencer marketing and soon YouTube. A generation uses it as its compass and search engine.
The company now has expansion plans of all kinds: from music, by competing with Spotify or Apple Music; to e-commerce, with the idea of setting up an international network of physical stores and taking on Amazon; as well as selling tickets for movies, concerts or shows.
Facebook has turned out to be a monster with no sense of responsibility that has gotten it involved in all kinds of barbarities, from electoral fraud to genocides; but TikTok has already proven, in its short history, to be much worse. This is a platform that lies about its security problems, has been fined for illegally using minors’ data, whose algorithm systematically bombards young men with misogynistic videos as it did previously by selecting videos of minors dancing for pedophiles, and keeps 70% of the donations its users make to desperate refugees. What’s more, so as not to have to depend on third parties to collect personal information, following a lesson learned from Facebook, TikTok has built spying systems directly into its app to monitor the activity of its users and everything they type.
We complained about Facebook’s disinformation problem? Well, TikTok does it systematically, returning search results full of misinformation in more than 20% of cases, and it does it under the control of a Chinese company, which promptly informs its government about everything it asks.
We need to understand what TikTok is and the danger it poses as it grows: we already know what happens when irresponsible companies have control of the networks that society uses to communicate. To continue to do nothing and allow TikTok to continue growing would be little short of a crime. And like all crimes, we will end up paying dearly for it.
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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