Summary:  One FCC Commissioner wants TikTok removed from app stores because of claims that user data is available to the Chinese government.  The FCC does not have the power to regulate app stores so the request is simply that—a request by a single Commissioner.  The Buzzfeed expose does suggest that there are a number of “backdoor” ways Chinese engineers can get user data even under new plans to store user data in the US.  Much of this data may already be available for commercial purchase.

One of the issues NOT addressed here is the Tik-Tok “For You” algorithm and how it might be designed to influence American users.

Latest News: What's The Deal With Tik-Tok?

More on Tik-Tok: 

BuzzFeed Investigative Report (click here for full story)

“There is, however, another concern: that the soft power of the Chinese government could impact how ByteDance executives direct their American counterparts to adjust the levers of TikTok’s powerful “For You” algorithm, which recommends videos to its more than 1 billion users. Sen. Ted Cruz, for instance, has called TikTok ‘a Trojan horse the Chinese Communist Party can use to influence what Americans see, hear, and ultimately think.’”

“Project Texas’s narrow focus on the security of a specific slice of US user data, much of which the Chinese government could simply buy from data brokers if it so chose, does not address fears that China, through ByteDance, could use TikTok to influence Americans’ commercial, cultural, or political behavior.”

Washington Post (click here for full story)

“The current administration has charted a different course on tech regulation than its predecessor while tapping Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel as chairwoman. But President Biden’s other nominee, Gigi Sohn, has been blocked by congressional Republicans. That means the FCC, which traditionally has five commissioners, is led by three Trump appointees under a Democratic chairwoman. Carr’s letter to Apple and Google was not signed by any of the other commissioners.”

“The Biden administration revoked its predecessor’s TikTok ban in June 2021, replacing it with a new process to scrutinize whether these sorts of apps pose a threat. But officials emphasized that they are committed to protecting U.S. citizens’ data from foreign surveillance, however, and reserved the right to take further action.”

CNN (click here for full story)
“TikTok is owned by the Beijing-based ByteDance, which means the company is essentially under the control of the Chinese government, said CNN's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter.”

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Parents, the latest revelations about how social media algorithms work are among the many reasons that tweens and teens need to know the facts about social media and the many effects it may be having on them, from body image issues to being actively recruited by white supremacist groups.

"Just Say No" is simply not enough in an age where most kids know how to get around restrictions on social media use. Instead, let your kids know the truth about misinformation, disinformation, manipulation, and social media use by sharing these resources with them.  Even if our specific vulnerabilities vary depending on what age we are, we are all in this together.


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