(Tony Sifert, Headline USA) As “the first TikTok election” approaches, a number of media and government sources have warned that the Beijing-based company’s new “Elections Center” threatens both American election integrity and its national security.
“That we’ve forfeited this much control to a hostile foreign power is one of the most mind-boggling, slow-motion political blunders in modern history,” wrote Emily Jashinsky at the Federalist.
Jashinsky argued that the Chinese Communist Party’s control of TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, gives it undue influence over American elections and political speech.
The ostensible purpose of TikTok’s election center is to give “provide voter information” and to “counter misinformation”—and both tasks, according to Jashinsky, will allow a Chinese company to collect data on American voters and police our political discourse in ways that favor the interests of the CCP.
“Controlling the rhetoric Americans are allowed to post and see on one of the most popular sources of discussion and information is a major advantage for China,” Jashinksy wrote.
In an interview with the Federalist, Tristan Harris of the Center for Humane Technology said that Chinese artificial intelligence will be able to sift through data from every American voting district in order to shape opinions relevant to elections.
“China can look at all the voting districts in the swing states and … basically look at people’s sentiments with an AI that calculates what people’s opinions are in all the key voting areas,” Harris said.
In June, Brendan Carr, senior Republican on the Federal Communications Commission, sent a letter to the CEOs of Apple and Google parent company Alphabet to warn that TikTok “is not just another video app,” and to ask the companies to remove the app from its stores.
TikTok is not just another video app.
That’s the sheep’s clothing.
It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.
— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) June 28, 2022
Carr pointed to leaked audio from internal TikTok meetings, published by BuzzFeed, which showed that Chinese employees of ByteDance “have repeatedly accessed nonpublic data about US TikTok users.”
“In light of this new report, we ask that your agency immediately initiate a Section 5 investigation on the basis of apparent deception by TikTok, and coordinate this work with any national security or counter-intelligence investigation that may be initiated by the U.S. Department of Justice,” Rubio and Warner wrote.