Extras: On TikTok and Politics

Musings on the current state of TikTok and political "discourse" in the Untied States, especially regarding national security.

I wanted to take a moment to write more on the TikTok <> US Politicians STUFF.

US politicians have been railing on TikTok recently from both major parties. They typically take a stance along the following lines:

  • It's a national security threat
  • It's bad for our kids
  • It's owned by China
  • It causes danger with viral challenges and stuff

These lines get parroted A LOT and are especially favorites of Reddit and YouTube users who consistently think they're like, better than everyone else despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. And let's ignore that mostly the politicians are trying to score anti-China points, and that they have no control over the discourse on an app like TikTok, which is further spooky to them (they do the same thing with US social media! All the useless congressional hearings!)


TikTok is definitely collecting your data. It definitely collects more of your data than it needs to collect in order to run. TikTok is definitely sending your data back to servers in China, and its VERY probable that they are—or can—share your data with the Chinese government.

The obvious follow-up here is that ALL US social media companies do exactly that, but with the US government.

The obvious follow-up to that is "well, yeah but at least that is us, and not going to China, which is a national security threat"

And this goes back and forth and back and forth.

Here is how I see it: why do you give a shit? Not every potential threat is a real threat. Not every real threat is worth avoiding. Everything is a gradient. Any security professional would tell you that it would be absurd to try and eliminate every threat vector no matter what. And no security professional would say that the answer is to simply ban a single app to fix that threat vector.

You simply cannot use the internet without taking a risk. Now, I want to be clear that I am not taking the stance of "Well, we're all exposing our data so we might as well roll over and give up." Quite the opposite.

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