In last’s week article, Biden Gave TikTok a Pass. American Kids Died, I noted the devastating consequences of Biden’s appeasement of China.
In the summer of 2020, President Trump imposed sanctions on TikTok, and in the next summer, Biden lifted them in his own executive order. While the Biden administration claimed that it would scrutinize the Chinese Communist company, there was an obvious ulterior motive.
Biden revoked Trump’s TikTok executive order in June 2021. That same month, the Biden administration began reaching out to TikTok influencers to build an “influencer army”.
It’s impossible to believe that the two White House decisions to revoke the TikTok order and to mobilize TikTok influencers made in the same month were unrelated.
Once again, Biden’s political interests trumped national security.
A BuzzFeed report in June 2022 revealed that, just as the Trump administration had warned, American user data was being accessed from China. “Everything is seen in China,” the report revealed. One consultant observed that, “there’s some backdoor to access user data in almost all of them”.
The latest BuzzFeed scoop reveals that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance was pushing ChiCom propaganda.
According to new claims by four former employees of the company, ByteDance already has used one of its apps to push pro-China messages to Americans: its now-defunct English-language news app, TopBuzz…
The four former ByteDance employees, each of whom worked on TopBuzz, claimed that ByteDance instructed members of its staff to place specific pieces of pro-China messaging in the app…
One source characterized most of the pro-China messages as “soft” rather than overt political statements. But, the person said, “Let’s be real, this was not something you could say no to. If they don’t do it, somebody’s going to jail.”
None of this is surprising. ByteDance is a Chinese company and the PRC makes none of the free market distinctions between corporations and governments.
Chinese companies are required to promote the PRC’s nationalist and international agendas.
Ten of the former employees claimed that a content review system would flag reporting on the Chinese government alongside nudity, hate speech, and other content for removal from the app. For instance, five former employees allege that coverage of the Hong Kong protests was subject to removal from TopBuzz…
(According to three of the sources, staff were encouraged to confer with the Beijing team about content moderation on “edge cases,” some of which just mentioned the Chinese government in passing.) Five allege that the company removed any articles that mentioned President Xi Jinping, and three remembered removing content that referenced Winnie the Pooh, because of a ban in China on memes comparing the character to Xi. (The Chinese Government has a history of censoring content related to Winnie the Pooh.)
While TopBuzz never discussed these policies publicly, at least one former ByteDance employee who worked on TopBuzz alluded to them on LinkedIn, saying she was “responsible for managing the content inside the platform according to Chinese government policies.”
China doesn’t let most American social media apps operate domestically. Facebook and Twitter can sell ad space to Chinese companies, but not target Chinese users.
America, thanks to Biden, has allowed a Chinese company to dominate a section of our social space with ugly consequences.