60% of Americans want to ban TikTok. We are going to get into all the shocking details from the recent survey about TikTok.
TikTok lobbying report: https://lda.senate.gov/filings/public/filing/238544b2-a748-499d-b43c-7687fd9c29be/print/
Pew Research – Statistics on TikTok usage: https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2021/04/07/social-media-use-in-2021/
TikTok letter to Congress: https://int.nyt.com/data/documenttools/tik-tok-s-response-to-republican-senators/e5f56d3ef4886b33/full.pdf
Reuters – CCP takes seat on the board of ByteDance https://www.reuters.com/world/china/beijing-owns-stakes-bytedance-weibo-domestic-entities-records-show-2021-08-17/
Reuters – TikTok testifies to Congress https://www.reuters.com/technology/tiktok-tells-us-lawmakers-it-does-not-give-information-chinas-government-2021-10-26/
Bloomberg – Communist board member appointed at Bytedance https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-08-17/beijing-tightens-grip-on-bytedance-with-rare-china-board-seat
Full testimony to Congress https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klqyjWTb7G8
Recently, a poll was conducted asking questions about TikTok. Be aware that this poll was conducted by the Convention of States Action and Trafalgar Group. The Convention of States Action is a conservative group against big government, so of course they are going to oppose any issues about big tech spying on citizens. However, keeping their potential bias in mind, this is the first poll major poll about TikTok that gives us an indication of people’s feelings about the company. Hopefully more polls will be run on this question so we can get more data.
Let us look at what they found. They asked over 1,000 potential voters in the US this question: “Do you support efforts to remove Tik Tok from app stores now that the company has revealed that American’s user data can be accessed by Tik Tok employees in China?”
58.6% said they supported banning TikTok. One of the shocking things about the survey was that he responses were very politically divided. 76.8% of Republicans support banning TikTok compared with only 39.2% of Democrats. Even more shocking, even young people are in support of banning TikTok. If we look at the 18-24 age range (including both Republicans and Democrats), 51.0% support banning TikTok. Even more shocking, if we look at the responses by Ethnicity, the Asian community is the most opposed to TikTok. These are huge numbers. 76.1% of Asian responders wanted to ban TikTok, followed by 67.6% Hispanic, and 58.1% white. Black responders were the most supportive of TikTok with only 46.0% wanting to ban TikTok. I find this curious. Why would Asian responders be so against this Chinese company? Maybe we should be listening to what these Asian voters have to say.
To make things worse, just this week a news story broke that TikTok has dramatically increased its lobbying spending in the last year. If we look at the lobbying report filed by TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance Inc. on 7/22/2022, we see that $2.1 M was spent last quarter alone. That is a 130% increase from last quarter. More than double. If we look at the bottom of the form, it shows the names of all the registered lobbyists. We can see that they are all employees of TikTok. So, we are in a situation where a large amount of Americans want this company banned, but the politicians who would enact the ban are getting paid enormous amounts of money by TikTok.
Just so you understand how this company works. TikTok is owned by ByteDance Inc. ByteDance is headquartered in Beijing, and like all Chinese companies, they are subject to influence by the Chinese Communist Party, which is well-known for using social media to control its population. To see an example of this, you only have to look as far as TikTok’s predecessor, an app called “Neihan Duanzi.” People used this app to share jokes. When people started sharing jokes that made fun of the Chinese Communist Party, the app was shut down and ByteDance issued an apology stating “The product has gone astray, posting content that goes against socialist core values.” Some people may argue that the Chinese government has nothing to do with TikTok, but the facts suggest otherwise. Just last year, The Chinese government took stake in ByteDance company stock as well as a seat on the board, indicating the government is exerting more control over the company. Just so you understand the significance of this, for the Communist Party to appoint themselves to a private company board, is an unusually aggressive move, even for the Communists. One month after the board appointment, the person who founded the company stepped down as CEO.
TikTok has tried to avoid scrutiny by structuring the company with separate operations in the US. However, the TikTok algorithm is still managed by ByteDance in China. This is the computer code that determines what content you actually see.
As we look at this issue, keep in mind that India banned TikTok on July 29, 2020, two years ago. Trump started the process to ban TikTok, but when Biden took office, he let the issue drop.
I know that some people say, “What is the big deal? Why does it matter if China has all our information?” Let’s just look at a few examples of the power of social media to shape our lives. Companies like Facebook banned speech about COVID-19 that later turned out to be true, like the strong possibility that it originated from a lab in Wuhan, China. Twitter banned the NY Post for an article on the Hunter Biden laptop right before the Presidential election. The laptop contained evidence about Hunter Biden selling political influence to China. The NY Post article turned out to be true. These social media companies control what information we see, which controls our actions. Keep in mind that 21% of Americans say they use TikTok. So, the information that is consumed by a huge amount of the population of the US is partly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Senator Ted Cruz describes TikTok as, “a Trojan horse the Chinese Communist Party can use to influence what Americans see, hear and ultimately think.”
The latest TikTok controversy surrounds reporting from BuzzFeed that revealed secret recordings taken from 80 different meetings inside TikTok. In the recordings, staff members openly discuss how TikTok user data can be accessed in China. Some of the quotes from the recordings include “I feel like with these tools, there’s some backdoor to access user data in almost all of them.” and “Everything is seen in China.” The revelations from these recordings are shocking by themselves, but what is even worse is it shows that TikTok lied to Congress.
Here is a video during a hearing between Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Marsha Blackburn and Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of public policy for the Americas.
This is video of TikTok lying to Congress. We know it is a lie, because after the controversy from the BuzzFeed article, TikTok sent a new letter to Congress, changing their story. In the letter they explain that the article was correct, and that users in China can access US user data. But they complain that the article was misleading, because TikTok was actually working to protect US data, even though they have not yet been successful in doing that yet. TikTok maintains in the letter that they never technically lied to Congress. They have always stated that the servers were located outside of China. TikTok just failed to mention the part that the information could still be “accessed” within China.
I fully disagree with TikTok’s statements in the letter. This is what is commonly referred to as a “lie of omission.” The Senator was clearly asking about whether US data could be compromised. TikTok refused to answer the question. That is a lie of omission. For TikTok to respond without mentioning that the data could be accessed in China, is clearly misleading. For TikTok to write a letter claiming this is technically not a lie because they did not mention it, does not create much confidence in their credibility. What else are they not telling us? What else are they lying about?
So here is the issue… Should we allow a company with so much power over our lives to continue to do business in the US, after they lie to Congress, and they still admit to having serious security concerns over accessing user data.
Leave a comment down below letting me know what you think!
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Neither Zach De Gregorio or Wolves and Finance shall be liable for any damages related to information in this video. It is recommended you contact a CPA in your area for business advice.