32 Comments
Mar 14Liked by Parker Molloy

Whenever you see something rushed through Congress with big bipartisan majorities, it's usually something really, really stupid. Like starting a war with Iraq based on lies about weapons of mass destruction.

And just to state the bleedin' obvious, Facebook is full of Russian propaganda. Is that because Facebook is owned by Russia? Or is it because Facebook is social media, and ALL social media is full of propaganda of all sorts?

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Mar 14Liked by Parker Molloy

I've become increasingly convinced that all this social media - Facebook, twitter, tiktok, etc - is bad for humans from a health perspective, a social perspective, and a political one. I'm not sure that banning one in particular will help, though, and certainly not if they ban it because of some geopolitical, vaguely racist strife with China. What I truly would prefer would be for us to decide together to stop using these platforms. Easier said than done, I know.

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I'm of 2 minds, (or maybe 1 and a half) about the Tik Tok ban. I can't see that most of the users do anything that actually creates a security risk if their data is purloined. But the use of social media by Russian-backed trolls in 2016 (and likely to resurge if it hasn't already) and its amazing success does weigh on my mind. Google gathering data to sell us stuff is good old American Capitalism. Not so sure about using the data for political persuasion. True, the spread on our social media was not on Russian owned sites. But it could have be much more finely pinpointed had those sites been owned by Russia.

My main problem with TT is the effect on kids' attention spans. Who owns it is irrelevant to that.

What actually fascinates me is trump's turnover on the issue. He was all for banning TikTok until one of his megadonors happened to tell him that the donor owned a chunk of the Chinese-owned company. Boom, flip flop.

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Mar 14Liked by Parker Molloy

As popular as TT is, I've been expecting pitchforks and torches. Are young people *that* checked-out of politics?

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Mar 14·edited Mar 14Liked by Parker Molloy

A news report on the 50-0 committee vote said they had gotten thousands of calls from constituents, mostly young people, but it was represented as a "pressure campaign" by Tik Tok that lawmakers easily shrugged off.

But nobody seems to give a shit what young people think anyway, just look at the war on Gaza to see that.

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I don't even use TikTok and have criticisms/concerns about it, but I don't advocate for a ban. It's too valuable as a means of communication and expression.

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If we're so worried about spyware on our phones, maybe we should do something to protect people from our good friends the Israelis?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus_(spyware)

Note: No, I'm not some kind of antisemitic nut, the issue here isn't that it comes from Israel, the point is we need better protection for everyone from threats that could come from anywhere. Looking at the nationality of the companies involved according to some classification dividing various countries into "Friends" and "Enemies" is just a really stupid and ineffective way to protect ourselves.

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TikTok is a potential threat, not just for propaganda purposes, but also for espionage purposes. The fact that it is not owned by a Western power, and not answerable to any of our laws makes the potential much more serious.

When I say "espionage" I am quite serious. An app on the phone can use that phone's capabilities at any time, for any purpose. It can listen in to Mom and/or Dad's conversations. It knows where you are, and that often means where the parents are, too. Or your lover.

I really wish that the FBI would be more forthcoming about the threats that they see. All that Wray said in his public testimony - beyond acknowledging the propaganda threat - is that it could "control software on the phone".

Spies these days are in the fishing business. They can use computers to find that needle in a haystack and start listening to it and analyzing it, maybe planting more sophisticated software on the phone. Phones and/or social media have oceans of data about their users and the people their users interact with. So while most users present no threat and no attack surface, there are enough of them that do to create serious problems.

One reason, for example, that TikTok is banned from any government phones is that it could easily steal credentials (via something called "keylogging") for other accounts send them back to the mothership which then exploits those accounts. TikTok could install a root kit (that's a very nasty form of trojan horse) on selected phones. It's quite possible they found something like this, but don't want to say who or where, or even say that they found it, because they think they can exploit it.

I think that if they are alarmed, they have every reason to be alarmed.

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Shouldn't our efforts be focused on laws and technology that prevent ANYONE from doing these things? This hysterical focus on Tik Tok just lulls us into complacency about the size of the real threat, which could come from anywhere, by making us think it's all about the "Red Chinese."

I'm not unconcerned about the things you're warning about, I just want universal protection from them rather than the politically motivated singling out of one company.

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This reminds me of how our national-security state became so fixated on the threat of Muslim terrorism that they basically forgot to monitor the alarming growth in domestic right-wing terrorism. About 99% of the people who want to steal your info want to do so to make money, but all the hysteria focuses on China.

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And the thing is that TikTok is not answerable or accountable to any US laws or law enforcement. That is exactly the problem.

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The EU has privacy laws and other laws regulating computer and phone apps that apply to anyone operating in the EU, doesn't matter who the owners are. That's why US software companies have to abide by them.

Seems like if the Europeans can figure out how to write laws like that, maybe we could too?

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And to clarify, the bill passed would allow TikTok to continue if it changed ownership to one that would be in some way accountable and responsive to US law.

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founding

Spying software can be installed into a phone from a video on YouTube and the various nations that operate "state-sponsored espionage" (which is most of the developed nations) tend to collaborate to make sure their own spying software doesn't interfere with other nations' spying software, to reduce chances of software conflicts that might cause the user to realize their phone is bugged. TikTok isn't realistically any more of a risk than any other social media app.

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Yes, haven't computer viruses been around since soon after the invention of the internet? As far as I can tell, the motivation for things like ransomware attacks is good, old-fashioned greed, not any evil plan from RED CHINA.

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Your desktop computer does not come with you in the car when you pick up your child after soccer practice. Phones do not have anti-virus software, and if they did, they couldn't do anything about TikTok which is an app that the user installed.

The runners of TikTok are absolutely curating it to be a sort of honey trap.

(The term to describe this situation is trojan horse or just trojan, not virus).

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The pattern here is that every time someone tries to justify why we should be in pants-shitting panic about Tik Tok, they point out something that's a problem GENERALLY that we should fix for EVERYONE not just people using Chinese-owned apps.

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I'm not sayiing we shouldn't fix it for everybody, and I'm not shitting my pants. You are mischaracterizing my comments. Stop it.

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Mar 14·edited Mar 14

What you were doing, specifically, is pointing to a problem that is a general problem as an argument for banning one specific platform. Glad no pants-shitting was involved, though.

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You're not the only one in the United States with an opinion on Tik Tok. The pants-shitting is general.

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"Phones do not have anti-virus software"

Seems like a problem we should work on, yes?

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This just in: The three reasons Mike Pence gave for not endorsing Donald Trump were: Abortion, the Budget Deficit, and Tik Tok. "Attempted overthrow of the United States Government" didn't make the list, but Tik Tok did.

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Sorry, but I'm worried about The Red Chinese under their Dictatorial Leader owning my data as well.

Don't want the U.S. Government owning my data, either—but at least if I go to a public protest I won't be mowed under by tanks for daring to voice a dissenting opinion—

::watches BLM protestors being chased by Capitol Police with pepper spray, water cannons and rubber truncheons::

Okay—but I STILL say Red China is worse.

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Not sure how we went from an app on my phone to being "mowed under by tanks."

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Do you not remember Tianamen Square? (thinks for a moment) Well, it was quite a long time ago, I suppose.

Here, look at this: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/china-1989-tiananmen-square-protests-demonstration-massacre

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Yeah, the problem I'm having is relating real events that happen in physical space with an app on my phone.

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I think you know that the connection we are making is the Chinese government, you just think you are being witty.

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I wish, I'm just honestly not getting the connection here. People mowed under by tanks, the app on your phone comes from CHINA.

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If your point is CHINA BAD you don't need to explain it further.

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