While you may be learning the latest dance craze, recipe, or true-crime story via TikTok, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr believes those behind the app is up to no good. In a tweet posted by the Republican leader, he wrote that the creation was a wolf in “sheep’s clothing,” claiming that it’s taking in United States-based user’s data and private information. Because of this alleged breach of confidence, Carr is calling on Apple and Google to remove the app from their stores, which would terminate access for countless users.
The commissioner’s actions come after and are based on, a BuzzFeed News statement that took a deep dive look into leaked audio following 80 TikTok insider meetings. These findings revealed that the app’s parent company ByteDance was behind the intrusion on personal information of many of its US-based clientele. While the governmental differences between China and the US are wide, one of the main contrasts is that China refers to itself as a communist country. Because of this, as one member of TikTok’s Trust and Safety department put it, “everything is seen in China.” So, despite the country’s insistence that it doesn’t collect private information from users outside the borders, that’s hard to believe. And with BuzzFeed News’ latest findings, the pile of evidence is pretty damning.
Carr’s letter also referenced other cases of TikTok’s alleged data breaching practices, citing reports that the software behind the app is able to sneak around defenses put up by Android and iOS in order to stop such events from taking place. There’s also a 2021 case in which the app gave a massive $92 million payout to end a lawsuit stemming from its illegal collection of data without the permission of its users. All in all, these examples spell trouble for the social media platform that Carr is hoping will be wiped from stores completely in the approaching weeks – if not days.
Like TikTok, other social media platforms, most famously Facebook, have been at the center of information-selling scandals. As for Mark Zuckerberg’s baby, it faced the full extent of the law in a lengthy set of trials surrounding its part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The offense centered around the most political data breach that happened to millions of users of the platform in the 2010s. In the end, Facebook still exists and holds on tightly to the statement that they do not sell or tap into its user’s info.
By our guesstimation, it will be an uphill battle for Carr to get his way with TikTok. His was the only commissioner’s signature on the letter sent to Apple and Google which means that either the news didn’t get out to the others, or they simply have bigger fish to fry at this moment. In a presumed effort to save their tails, shortly before the Buzzfeed News article was dropped, those behind the massive social media platform hoped to assuage concerns when they revealed that they were sending all their US usage through a new Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. With the future of TikTok up in the air, you may want to start jotting down those recipes.