TikTok, an app developed by Chinese multinational internet technology company ByteDance has 3 billion downloads to date and more than one third of its daily users are kids younger than 14. This raised concerns as to the safety of the use of the app.
In fact, a clinical psychologist named Alan Blotcky wrote in the New York Daily News that he has "seen firsthand how TikTok's appeal can turn to significant and potentially deadly mental health problems in our youth." TikTok is engaging to young people because it enables them to express themselves, their thoughts, feelings, and creativity. However, it's also a breeding ground for manipulation.
According to Raw Story founder John Byrne, TikTok works in a way that feeds users with a stream of videos and additional recommended clips based on what the user watches the most.
The report said that these recommended clips are "sometimes extreme, anxiety-producing, and flat-out toxic." TikTok can also be dangerous for kids who experience mental health problems, as they may be exposed to content that encourages bad behavior and other things. The report said, "All in all, harmful content on TikTok and other platforms can push children and teenagers further into their illness."
TikTok's impact on the youth of America has become more evident after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg decried how his platform lost daily users for the first time in its 18-year history, blaming TikTok for stealing his spotlight. A report from The Federalist reveals that TikTok, which was developed by a Chinese company, is being used as a "tool of cultural control" by China to undermine the U.S. by influencing its youth.
It alleges that Beijing uses a similar platform called Douyin, which is being used by the communist state as a propaganda tool for Chinese youth. But in China, Douyin is heavily regulated, as users under 14 can only use it at certain times of the day and for a limited period of time. For Chinese users, Douyin shows "interesting popular science experiments, exhibitions in museums and galleries, beautiful scenery across the country, explanations of historical knowledge, and so on."
In the U.S. however, the Douyin counterpart TikTok is being used to influence the American public. Andrew Schulz explained in an Instagram video,
"In China, the way that the algorithm works is it doesn't reward people people doing stupid dances and like playing with their dog. The algorithm is rewarding things that they want to see in their youth do, doing cool engineering s*** People doing cool s***. But if you're China and you wanted to disrupt another country, wouldn't you reward the dumbest possible s*** on that app? Twerking, people doing stupid dances. You want the next level of youth to go 'I can be famous doing something that's truly worthless to society.' Not beneficial to society like being an engineer, being a doctor."
"This is how you get to manipulate your society into doing something good and how you f- over your competition into doing worthless sh-. It's genius," Schulz concluded. "This is how you fight wars."