Now that social media has become a weapon in the fight for world dominance between the USA and China, the gloves are off—not that folks are listening, they’re far more concerned that their favorite apps might be struck off.

The exchanges in the TikTok congressional hearings this week were of historical significance—a deluge of accusations and rebuttals that left both sides unmoved.

There is no doubt in my mind that any company registered in China—a country that nominally advocates a command economy fitting to its Marxist-Leninist roots—is beholden to government.

Just as any company in the USA that has strategic interest is beholden to its government.

Google is a good example: since 2012, it manages email for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal agency with 25,000 staff.

The Google Cloud is now widely used by the US government, as is AWS (Amazon Web Services). There is equally no doubt in my mind that Google and Amazon are part of the US national security infrastructure—although it will be far easier for the Chinese government to tap into data from a company registered in the Middle Kingdom than the US equivalent.

Since I think social media is a pervasive force of evil—in many ways it’s the dark side of the internet—I find it amazing that the nefarious consequences are not more obvious to users.

Boasting is part of human nature—more so when people are insecure or immature. Much of the pain on social media is self-inflicted, from drunk dicpics to humble brag.

To make things worse, there are whole essays out there telling you how to photograph your penis. Here is one of the more amusing contributions.

A dick pic is like meatloaf: It has a pretty bad rap, but when composed correctly and served consensually, it can be delicious.

So from the tool who sends his tool to the office WhatsApp group when he’s blitzed at 3 am to the girl who shares a pic of her dog and accidentally includes her vagina’s reflection in the bathroom mirror to the idiot watching porn on Zoom while sharing a work screen… they walk among us.

And then there’s third party shit—soooo predictable. The disgruntled bedmate, the high school kid showing off his girlfriend’s tits to the guys… the list is long, imaginative, cruel, and horribly persistent.

As school or college morphs into job, all this crap comes back to byte you (sorry) in the butt—the web has plenty of companies dedicated to finding out (all) about you. PC Magazine did a review of those options a couple of years ago.

If I was applying for a job, the first thing I would do is get someone I trust to contract a review, so I could find out the worst before the interview. If only I hadn’t done that stag night in Vilnius…

But the big brother stuff is what we miss out—the systematic harvesting of information by the corporations who own the apps.

The TikTok CEO is called Shou Zi Chew—his name (周受资) in pinyin is Zhōu Shòuzī—the ‘Chew’ bit is just an effort to get Americans to pronounce his family name properly.

His ‘chewing’ this week by the congressional committee was a display of politeness and rational argument from the CEO and blatant xenophobia from some committee members. Zhou was repeatedly cut off and insulted, as both Democrat and Republican lawmakers catered to their base and the elephant waltzed unhindered in the room.

Facebook—on record as saying that pre-teens are a ‘valuable but untapped audience’—gets a free pass. Likewise, Instagram, Twitter, the orangutan’s TRUTH social… it’s a long and tedious list.

TikTok is a problem, along with all the other social media platforms—if America bans TikTok, the next day TikTak, TokTik, and TukTuk will emerge, all proudly made in the USA and all selling your location, age, friends, hobbies, purchases, vibes, and vices to all comers.

Wired magazine concludes that the TikTok hearing reveals congress is the problem. I couldn’t agree more.

The US can sacrifice the sino-scapegoat all it wants, but the enemy is within. So is the solution, much like gun control.

In Europe, privacy is a four-letter word.


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