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Is TikTok truly a threat to Western countries?

Is TikTok truly a threat to Western countries?, TikTok

China has opposed a bill in the US Congress that could potentially lead to TikTok being banned in the States, labeling it unfair. This dispute adds to the ongoing concerns regarding the safety of the app, which is owned by a Chinese company.

There are three primary cyber concerns surrounding TikTok, each met with responses from the company:

Data Collection: Critics argue that TikTok gathers an excessive amount of data. TikTok defends its practices, stating that its data collection aligns with industry standards. While studies have highlighted extensive data harvesting by TikTok, comparisons with other social media platforms suggest similar data collection practices. The company maintains that it follows industry norms in this regard.

Potential for Chinese Government Espionage: There are fears that TikTok could be exploited by the Chinese government for spying on users. TikTok denies providing user data to the Chinese government and asserts its independence from Chinese authorities. However, concerns persist due to TikTok's ownership by ByteDance, a Beijing-based company. While TikTok claims to safeguard user data and limit access to it, incidents such as ByteDance employees accessing data without authorization have fueled apprehensions.

Propaganda and Manipulation: There are concerns that TikTok could be utilized as a tool for propaganda and manipulation, akin to its sister app, Douyin, which operates only in China. TikTok maintains community guidelines to prevent misinformation and claims to refrain from political censorship. While instances of censorship on TikTok have been rare, concerns linger about its potential use for influence operations.

Source: BBC

Overall, the apprehensions surrounding TikTok primarily revolve around theoretical risks rather than concrete evidence of malfeasance. Critics argue that despite its seemingly benign appearance, TikTok could potentially pose significant risks, particularly during times of conflict. The app has already been banned in India, and a US ban could have far-reaching consequences, as US allies often follow suit with such decisions. However, it's worth noting that while Western countries grapple with concerns about TikTok, China has long restricted access to US apps, creating a one-way street in terms of cyber risks.

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