TikTok is “good or bad” for candidates

TikTok is “good or bad” for candidates

The adolescent voter who approached Wade Herring at a restaurant over the weekend was a stranger to him. But she knew Herring, a Georgia Democrat running for Congress, from his TikTok campaign ads.

To Herring, a 63-year-old attorney in Savannah, it was proof of TikTok’s capacity to reach young voters with pinpoint accuracy — the precise reason why he and other candidates excitedly embraced the platform ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Prior to a year and a half ago, I believed that TikTok just had dancing videos, as stated by Herring. Young voters, he argued, are crucial “not watch CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News TikTok is their source of knowledge, and for better or worse, it is the only way to contact them.”

It is worse for a handful of government personnel.

Despite concerns from Washington policymakers about TikTok’s handling of user data and misinformation, as well as its ties to the Chinese government, TikTok’s popularity has increased. These concerns caused the U.S. military to block the program on military devices and generated proposals to prohibit it on all government computers and mobile devices.

Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, expressed grave worries about the Chinese communist party’s access to American users’ TikTok data at a meeting this month focused on the national security implications of social media.

Still, its influence cannot be denied. Two-thirds of American adolescents use TikTok, a proportion that has increased as other platforms have declined in popularity. It is the most downloaded application in the world and the second-most viewed website after Google. And it’s no longer just about viral dancing challenges; it’s also a place to shop, learn about beauty, fashion, or sports, and register to vote.

Even with concerns regarding TikTok as a conduit for misinformation or privacy invasion, the benefits of using the app are simply too great to ignore.

“People will utilize it. It is a highly effective instrument “Colton Hess, the creator of Tok the Vote, a 2020 voter registration and engagement initiative that reached tens of millions of young voters, stated that the initiative reached tens of millions of young voters. “So long as that is the active game, you must be in the arena.”

ByteDance Ltd., a Chinese business that relocated its headquarters to Singapore in 2020, owns TikTok. TikTok has been plagued by questions about its ties to the Chinese government even as its popularity has exploded.

At the hearing held by the Senate earlier this month, members of both parties questioned a TikTok executive about the influence of Chinese government officials and if the platform’s data and content are under the authority of China’s autocratic leaders.

Vanessa Pappas, the Chief Operating Officer of TikTok based in Los Angeles, stated that the firm safeguards all data from American users and Chinese government officials have no access to it.

Pappas stated, “We will never share data, period.”

TikTok has also launched an election hub to help users access information on U.S. elections, voting, and candidates. According to the company, it is working to stop the spread of damaging misinformation.

The platform’s defenders also point out that TikTok is not the only website blamed for failing to prevent the spread of false material. Its competitors, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, confront their own data privacy concerns.

In a research released this month by New York University, all five platforms were condemned for promoting former president Donald Trump’s election-related lies. The study found inconsistencies in misleading regulations and lax enforcement.

While TikTok has strong-sounding standards, their implementation is exceedingly inconsistent, according to the study’s author, professor and researcher Paul Barrett.

This month, NewsGuard, a company that monitors online misinformation, discovered that roughly one-fifth of TikTok videos about major news events had false information. The movies covered issues such as COVID-19, the 2020 election, Russia’s conflict in Ukraine, and the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

According to Geoffrey Cain, a senior scholar at the Lincoln Network, a conservative-leaning think organization that researches technology policy, TikTok’s ties to China set it unique from other platforms. He stated that the country’s officials have demonstrated a readiness to promote disinformation that weakens the West, and it would be absurd to assume that they have not attempted to recruit TikTok for this purpose.

Cain stated, “This is not the Cold War where we had weaponry and missiles pointed at one other.” Now we possess smartphones.

In China, TikTok is not available. Experts told legislators during a recent Senate hearing that the site’s parent firm offers a similar platform that contains the same dance videos but also pushes educational information about math and science. The Chinese version also limits 13- and 14-year-old users to 40 minutes each day. There are no such restrictions in the American edition, which prohibits users under the age of 13.

Concerned about China’s influence over TikTok, the Trump administration threatened to ban the app in the United States in 2020 and encouraged ByteDance to sell TikTok to a U.S. company. Officials from the United States and the corporation are currently negotiating a potential agreement that would alleviate American security worries.

Sen. Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, was a co-author of the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act when he was in the House. He favors additional laws for data gathering and marketing to children, which he claims will make platforms like TikTok safer.

However, he does not wait for these modifications to occur before utilizing the platform. Markey became an improbable TikTok sensation in 2020 when his videos were credited with helping him defeat Joe Kennedy’s primary challenge.

Young voters, according to Markey, are especially concerned about climate change and other environmental issues. “I feel fortunate to be able to join them online in their pursuit of a better future and a livable planet,” he said.

TikTok gives politicians and advocacy groups a window into the concerns of millions of young Americans whose political impact will only continue to expand, according to Ellen Sciales, director of communications for the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led organization that seeks to combat climate change.

“There are young people conversing with other young people. It’s about meeting people where they are “said Sciales, 25.

Younger people will evaluate candidates based on their positions on issues, not whether they are on TikTok, according to Sciales, who added that those who avoid the platform miss out on a potent organizing and communication tool with voters.

It is a risk that some lawmakers are unwilling to take.

Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, stated in July, “I would approach TikTok with extreme caution at this time.” “TikTok would not be installed on any of my devices.”

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