Musk asks if TikTok ‘destroying civilization’ amid reports China-based app accessing US user data

Elon Musk, with very few words, sparked yet another social media storm on Friday when he asked users on Twitter if TikTok would be society’s downfall.

“Is TikTok destroying civilization?” he asked. “Some people think so.”

And as if going after the wildly popular Chinese-owned app wasn’t controversial enough, the man who is attempting to purchase what is arguably the most influential platform on the internet asked, “Or perhaps social media in general.”

Musk’s provocative question comes on the heels of a BuzzFeed News report which claims TikTok employees based in China have been digging into sensitive U.S. user data, contradicting previous Senate hearing testimony from the company that a “world-renowned, US-based security team” would decide who would be able to access the data.

It’s an important distinction.

As a Chinese company, ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, is subject to the Chinese Communist Party’s rule, and as one TikTok employee reportedly said, “everything is seen in China.”

“The risk is that the government could force ByteDance to collect and turn over information as a form of ‘data espionage,'” BuzzFeed explains.

“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,” the report states. “Sen. Ted Cruz, for instance, has called TikTok ‘a Trojan horse the Chinese Communist Part can use to influence what Americans see, hear, and ultimately think.”

Alarms over the security of the TikTok app have been sounding for years.

As BizPac Review reported in July 2020, President Trump was entertaining a full-on ban of the social media app.

“We’re looking at TikTok, we’re thinking about making a decision,” the former President said.

On Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives passed Rep. Ken Buck’s (R-Colo.) bill to prohibit federal employees from downloading the app on government-issued devices.

Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News, “We are taking this very seriously. We are certainly looking at it.”

At the time, even the general counsel for then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, Dana Remus, directed staff in a memo to “refrain from downloading and using TikTok.”

Clearly, the thinking regarding TikTok among Biden advisors has radically changed.

The White House has been lousy with TikTok “influencers” since he took office.

https://twitter.com/beckyamycare/status/1424848122635771905?s=20&t=gJRi0-3eomI0GLAHrgHaHA

So much so, “Saturday Night Live” even poked fun at Biden’s choice of advisors.

Most recently, the White House has rallied the TikTok stars to amplify the narrative that it is Russian President Vladimir Putin –and not President Joe Biden and his disastrous policies — who is to blame for skyrocketing gas prices.

To set the record totally straight, 18-year-old Ellie Zeiler, who boasts more than 10 million TikTok followers, reported on her super-informative phone call with the White House.

“[T]he call was predominantly about Ukraine and Russia, so how does that relate?” Zeiler asked. “Russia is one of the top three producers of oil and it is actually their No. 1 revenue source. Now, with Putin starting this horrific fight between Ukraine and Russia, nobody wants to work with him and do international trade.”

“So,” she explained, “with people being scared of war and limited resources, prices go up.”

Apparently, the Biden administration has determined the benefits of broadcasting propaganda to millions of Americans with a few short videos far outweighs any potential sensitive American user data falling into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, and it is willing to bet that no one in China will be changing algorithms to benefit a possible Trump campaign.

Back on Twitter, users are pondering Musk’s existential question.

Below are a sample of their thoughts:

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