after the Senate passed the law To ban TikTok from government equipment, the future of the app is at once in jeopardy. But some schools that have used the app for student assignments have raised concerns about what is being promoted to children and how their data is being stored.
Parents Defending Education (PDE), a parent rights organization, highlighted at least 15 schools, school districts and education departments across the country that have promoted TikTok in school assignments or competitions.
The Connecticut State Department of Education offers several TikTok related activities to teachers in the state. An activity example advised that students “Make a claim: Should anyone use the word Latinx? Why or why not?” Using Tiktok.
An assignment at Whittier Union High School in California instructed students to send “a TikTok that makes you laugh.” Assignments state that students should not include profanity or nudity.
Another chemistry assignment from Peoria Public Schools in Illinois instructed students to “make a flipgrid or TikTok video describing which five different substances around your house fit into which classifications.”
Nicole Neely, president of Parents Defending Education (PDE), told Fox Digital that parents have every right to be concerned about the app, especially because they know so little about how it actually works. .
“I do not want my child to be put in a position where they are forced to download an app that I have no control over what they have access to and use this platform as a component of their grades.” forced to do,” Neely told Fox News Digital.
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One example that Neily cited for avoiding the platform was particularly controversial: gender ideology on TikTok. “If students’ minds are repeatedly bombarded with messages about gender identity, then frankly, it normalizes it,” she said.
Neily summed up his concerns about TikTok in one sentence: “What do our kids see and how will it be used against them in the future?”
Nelly also pointed out that parents are often not aware of content going viral on TikTok, even if they feel suspicious about the platform. According to a recent PDE survey, more than two-thirds of parents “are not comfortable allowing their children to use TikTok without adult supervision, including 73% of parents aged 18-34″. Are included.”
But concerns are not only about inappropriate content on the platform, but also center on the content creators themselves. Bloomberg Businessweek recently released a profile on “TikTok’s problem child” Jenny Popatch — a 15-year-old “TikTok star” who makes “hypersexualized posts.” Some of her videos include her “in a string bikini,” “body rolling in hot pants,” and using profanity in her video captions.
She also has 7 million followers and counting on TikTok.
A spokesperson for TikTok told Fox Digital that the safety and privacy of youth is a top priority for the platform. “One of our most important commitments is to support the safety and well-being of teens, and we believe this work is never-ending. We continue to focus on strong safety protections for our community, as well as providing -Empower dads with additional controls for their teen’s account. TikTok Family Pairing.”
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The app also has potential national security problems, warned Vanderbilt professor and cybersecurity expert Douglas Schmidt.
“The TikTok app collects a lot of information, which is more than it needs,” Schmidt said. That’s because nothing is really private on TikTok. ,[TikTok] The device collects things like location, calendar, contacts. There is also the concern that the app itself may be written in a way that allows it to control [user’s] phone.”
“TikTok works tirelessly to provide and share more of what its users want to share,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said evidence has also emerged that “data has been collected and used by people who may have been part of the Communist Party.”
Notably, different categories of users have different concerns on TikTok. “If someone can be identified as a member of the military” or “law enforcement” or any other kind of sensitive job,” then they are being tracked. Their locations are being tracked. Their usage patterns is being tracked. His interests are being tracked.”
Schmidt stressed that while other apps like Facebook and Instagram have access to users’ personal data, the primary concern with TikTok is “who has that information and what are they doing with that information.”
Asked how the US government might respond to the threat of banning TikTok outright, Schmidt said the simplest way was to “force the sale of TikTok” and hire Oracle, an American company, to take over the Chinese-owned platform. to be allowed to control. , It was a proposal made by former President Donald Trump in 2020 and rescinded by President Biden in 2021.
A spokesperson for TikTok told Fox News Digital that the company is actively working with the government to address these concerns.
“For more than two years, TikTok has been working with the US government to address all reasonable concerns about TikTok in the United States,” the spokesperson said.
We believe those concerns can be fully addressed, and the Committee on Foreign Investment in America is currently considering a comprehensive solution to do just that.”
TikTok is currently awaiting a Justice Department decision on a possible settlement that would determine whether the app can continue to operate in the US.
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But what are the stakes if the US doesn’t crack down on TikTok’s social media dominance? author of coming fall of china, gordon changFox told Digital that the threat of TikTok was “existential” to the US
“TikTok sends all the data it collects [the] User’s phone for Beijing. Beijing, therefore, can use it to learn about people, which means it can intimidate” or even “blackmail” them, he said.
“China is stealing the world’s data, and TikTok uses it to do so,” Chang said.
Chang also said that China uses the TikTok algorithm to promote the “narrative” of the Communist Party to the outside world.
Those “narratives” have real world consequences, Chang explained. “In 2020, there are reports that Beijing used TikTok to incite violence on American streets, which is also an act of war.”
And this is just the beginning of TikTok’s corrosive effect on American society. “TikTok is glorifying drug use, which fits with China’s fentanyl campaign to kill Americans,” Chang said.
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But TikTok’s algorithm is the real threat, Chang said. “In the final months of the Trump administration when they tried to arrange the sale of TikTok to US interests, the deal was not over price but over control of the algorithm.”
TikTok’s algorithm is powered by Chang which is also known as “the world’s most sophisticated AI”. artificial intelligence, “TikTok knows what you like and it knows what you don’t, and it knows it better than any other social media app.”
It’s a combination that is not only “powerful,” Chang said, but extremely “addictive.” This makes TikTok dangerous and worth banning – but not just on government devices. “TikTok should be banned in the US as long as it is owned by ByteDance or another Chinese party,” Chang said.
Chang pointed to the apparent double standard in tech regulation between China and the US “If China doesn’t allow American apps in China, why does the US allow Chinese apps in the United States?”
The answer is the Washington, D.C. foreign policy establishment, Chang argued. “We have a foreign policy establishment that believes we can cooperate with China. But I don’t think you can believe that you can cooperate with a regime that seeks your destruction. And China demands the destruction of the United States. We must be clear about it because if we are not, we cannot defend ourselves. If we cannot defend ourselves, we will lose our country. “
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And while some have called for an outright ban on TikTok, that would be difficult to do. former chief of staff to Sen. Marsha Blackburn, chuck flinttold Fox Digital that the movement to ban TikTok was an uphill battle.
“TikTok is harmless fun for a lot of consumers,” Flint said. And consumers mean advertising opportunities for big business, with Corporate America spending roughly “$6 billion a year” to get its products in front of young people primarily between the ages of 10 and 29. . Another problem is that some US politicians have legitimized the platform on a national platform, especially since “Biden invited TikTok influencers to the White House last winter for a briefing on the war in Ukraine.”
But when asked whether banning TikTok on government equipment is enough, Flint responded emphatically. It’s a start, he said, but ultimately “it’s not enough.”
“The government needs to ban this immediately,” Flint said. In China, he said, tech companies are “usually aligned with the government and also with the military,” presenting clear national security concerns for the millions of American TikTok users.
The number of users on TikTok in the US is even more astonishing. About 85 million Americans use TikTok every month, Flint said, and roughly “50 million” of that group are between the ages of 10 and 29. In other words, parents who allow their kids to use the app make up a considerable percentage of TikTok. US Users
So in the end, it’s American youth who are suffering most from TikTok’s data siphon, Flint said. “It’s really threatening. A generation of Americans [is] being exposed to possible manipulation” and “blackmail”.
“They are our future leaders,” he said.
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