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As Tiktok goes so goes the nation
Conservatives and Facebook have teamed up to prime Americans for the day TikTok is banned from the US.
Brendan Carr, an FCC chairman and republican, sent a letter to Apple and Google demanding the two companies remove TikTok from their respective platforms. In the letter, Carr claims that TikTok, a Chinese-own video-sharing platform, is collecting large amounts of user data on Americans. Of course, Carr has no authority over which apps are allowed to exist on Apple and Google’s respective app stores, nor will the two companies likely oblige his demand.
So what’s the big deal, anyway? Why would Brendan Carr single out TikTok for gathering user data, something that Facebook (and every American tech company) does every day on a grander scale? Control and suppression. We’ll get to that in a moment.
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Zuck’s deal with the devil
Remember a month ago when we learned that Facebook is working with a right-wing public relations company to smear TikTok? And how they successfully plant stories in the news that painted TikTok as dangerous? Well, they didn’t stop just because they were caught. In fact, we now know that a few of Brendan Carr’s FCC subordinates went to work for Targeted Victory, the company Facebook hired.
It looks like Zuckerberg sold his soul to conservatives to save his dying empire. Who will he have to screw over to return the favor? American Facebook users.
While the FCC and Targeted Victory are successfully keeping TikTok in the news and on the defensive, Meta is censoring abortion care on its platforms. A month ago, the Associated Press broke a story detailing how Facebook and Instagram instantly removed posts discussing access to abortion pills. Meta released a statement explaining that it prohibits posts about guns, alcohol, and drugs. But when the AP tested this policy with posts of their own, they found that swapping out the word “abortion” with “gun” didn’t get the post removed. However it seems Facebook is okay with allowing ads to run that promote a dangerous, unproven “abortion reversal” procedure. The story broke just today.
Of course, Zuckerberg and Co. caving to conservative demands is nothing new. Remember when we learned that Facebook had to manually whitelist far-right accounts because its algorithm kept flagging them as nazis? And let’s not forget about Cambridge Analytica. Most Americans are still unaware of just how accommodating Facebook was to the organization led by Steve Bannon.
Conservatives can’t control TikTok like it can Meta
TikTok isn’t doing anything that Facebook, Amazon, and even Apple and Google aren’t already doing every day. All social media companies gather our data. Thats not the problem this astroturf anti-Tiktok movement sets to solve. The issue is TikTok is a Chinese-owned entity. It’s harder for Republicans to leverage legislative blackmail over TikTok as they’ve done with Meta. Republicans can’t get TikTok to change its algorithm to allow far-right personalities to dominate the For You Page, like they did on Facebook. And because TikTok doesn’t allow political ads on its platform, It’s harder for Republicans to poison the well. Cambridge Analytica 2.0 is unlikely to occur on the hottest app in the App Store. The political wing hellbent on turning this country into an evangelical ethno-state is organizing to ban TikTok from our shores. As far as I can tell, they’re winning. This is a problem for those fighting against fascism.
TikTok is exceptionally good at dispersing information quickly. The concept of its For You Page levels the playing field for content creators, focusing more on video engagement and less on follower count. As protests undoubtedly increase across the country, so will police brutality. We need ways to show the average American what is happening on the ground. We need ways to continue to organize without the US Government’s ear against our door. Since Zuckerberg has shown us his willingness to cave to fascist demands in exchange for his continued social media dominance, we can bet Meta will find new ways to censor activists on his platforms. It’ll likely get worse as the Supreme Court strips more rights away. We can also bet that if and when we get a Republican President, their first order of business will be to ban the overseas tool that so many leftists and liberals have used to organize and disperse timely information.
Like it or not, TikTok is the platform of the resistance. Our ability to organize against fascism will be worse off without it.