TikTok is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, and Democrats and media types are now boasting about the app’s use last night, interfering in a U.S. presidential election rally in Tulsa.
Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Saturday night, following a smaller turnout at the Trump rally in Oklahoma:
Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID
Shout out to Zoomers. Y’all make me so proud. ☺️ https://t.co/jGrp5bSZ9T
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 21, 2020
Let’s be clear: TikTok is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, as we detailed in May here on The National Pulse.
The app has removed references to the Tiananmen Square massacre, in line with demands from Chinese Communist Party officials, and has been flagged by a number of leading cyber-security monitors on national security grounds.
In a bipartisan move last year Senators Tom Cotton and Chuck Schumer sent a joint letter to acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire requesting the Intelligence Community conduct a security assessment of TikTok.
The letter noted:
Questions have also been raised regarding the potential for censorship or manipulation of certain content. TikTok reportedly censors materials deemed politically sensitive to the Chinese Communist Party, including content related to the recent Hong Kong protests, as well as references to Tiananmen Square, Tibetan and Taiwanese independence, and the treatment of Uighurs. The platform is also a potential target of foreign influence campaigns like those carried out during the 2016 election on U.S.-based social media platforms.
Now, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is bragging about this potential foreign influence, while CNN’s Brian Stelter called it a “no show protest” without offering his viewers any insight into the TikTok app and who owns it.
The National Pulse reported on the matter in May:
TikTok is the brainchild of Chinese entrepreneur Zhang Yiming, who founded a company called ByteDance in 2012.
At first, ByteDance built a popular news app powered by AI-driven recommendations, but Zhang saw the potential of using the same engine for social media content as well. To that end, ByteDance launched a video sharing app called Douyin in China in September of 2016. In August of 2018, they purchased Shanghai-based Music.ly, which already had a presence in the United States. By merging the two apps, the company created TikTok, and it became an immediate worldwide hit.
Today, it’s the most popular social media app in the world, which has made ByteDance the most valuable startup in the world. Zhang Yiming himself is now worth over $16 billion.
In addition to receiving funding from numerous venture capitalists, TikTok has allied itself with influential celebrities and corporations in America. In late 2019, for example, TikTok and the National Football League announced a partnership that involved posting official NFL highlights on the platform while encouraging teams and players to use the app to connect with fans.
While any TikTok user is free to create and upload whatever they want, the heart of the application is its AI-powered recommendation system.
Like the algorithms used by Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms, this AI system evaluates what you watch and like and uses that information to recommend new videos that you might also like. Figuring out how to use that algorithm correctly is what makes or breaks a content creator. While these algorithms usually do a good job of anticipating what a user might enjoy, they are ultimately controlled by human programmers, and those programmers answer to higher powers.
While the potential for political interference from American companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google is bad enough, the threat of TikTok is multiplied by the fact that they are controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
While Chinese CEOs such as Zhang consider themselves independent, an event a few years back shows who holds real power in this arena.
In April 2018, the Chinese government forced ByteDance to remove a joke app for what it called “vulgar content”. The Chinese Communist Party also compelled Zhang to issue a letter of apology, in which he admitted that the app was “incommensurate with socialist core values.” He was made to adjust the algorithm in order to promote more “authoritative media content”.
Tens of millions of Americans rely on the TikTok algorithm to deliver entertaining videos to their smartphones. The Department of Justice spent three years and millions of taxpayer dollars investigating claims that Russian agents bought a handful of Facebook ads in order to influence the 2016 election, but platforms such as TikTok have an exponentially greater reach, which means a greater potential for interference.
TikTok already censors certain videos within China, such as the Tiananmen Square massacre and the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
It is worth considering what the response would have been from the Democratic Party and CNN if the Trump campaign or it’s fans had used a Russian-made app to do the same thing.