Back in July 2020 I wrote a long winded Facebook post about why TikTok was basically a virus that you gladly implanted into your life, and why it should be deleted immediately. The post came with a lot of reactions such as “I don’t care”, “I like the dances!”, and other completely checked out replies. A few people seemed concerned, but I’d be curious as to how many actually deleted the app from their devices. That post is forever lost when I deleted my old Facebook account, hence why it’s not linked here.
I wrote that diatribe a few days before it hit more mainstream media. I read a lot of security and tech blogs, which is where this info I was sharing was initially disclosed. Basically some guy reverse engineered the app and dug around it’s source code to look into what it was doing. The gist is that it’s run by the Chinese Government, the app collects everything about you it possibly can, has tons of very concerning back-doors into your device, and now… there’s more.
You seriously need to delete this app. And I’m going to tell you why.
The First Warning
Like I said, there was a serious warning put up 2 years ago that seemingly nobody cared about. We were a few months into the pandemic and people were all doing stupid dances and cameos with Ellen Degeneres as she cried about being “just like everyone else” and “we’re all in this together”. You know the one.. recorded from her $49 million dollar Santa Barbara home, that she paid for in cash. Yes, I too have a spare $50 mil in liquid assets laying around, I feel you girl. Please recognize me and like my post <3
But even before that, there were massive security holes, such as this one which allows ANY attacker (like, you could do this if you were half competent at understanding basic code) to add, delete, and modify the accounts of basically anyone they wish. Not to mention it’s a great way to scrape nearly all your personal details without you know it. Fire up a little automation in a script and you’re now digesting as much information as your server can reasonably collect on anyone you wish. This didn’t really make any news outside of cyber security circles and life went on.
So, while everyone did these stupid dances and cried into non-existent toilet paper, TikTok began installing backdoors into your devices, some 1.5 BILLION of them. Seriously concerning ones. The app would take root privilege (something that not even you, the owner of your phone have), then have the ability to install apps in the background that you don’t know about (or can see). It has FULL control over your device. Oh, and another thing, they also install a reverse proxy. For the 99.5% of people out there who don’t know what this is, essentially they can bounce anything they want off your phone, and it’ll look like you were making the request. Breaking it down, this means anyone with access to this ability would be able to go get kiddy porn, or bomb making info, or communicate with nefarious destinations, and to any authority that may ever be eavesdropping, it’s YOU that’s doing it. Couple that with the Patriot Act, and you better believe that the NSA now knows you’re searching for “DrakeShouldntBeChattingUp16YearOldGirls.com”. Creeped out, you should be – but, those TikTok dances were just too much fun!
It Makes You Stupid
I dated a woman a few years back that sent me TikTok videos every couple of hours. I won’t lie, admittedly some of them were funny, but more-so I thought “how the hell does she have this much time in her day? How does she get anything done!? Why have I almost spent more time watching these stupid videos she sends me than working?”. That should have been a red-flag, but I’m in my late 30’s, bald, and don’t own a cute puppy to hold for my Tinder profile photo so it’s a begger/chooser situation. That said, I had to end things (albeit, this was only part of it – I’m not that shallow). Still, it was a glimpse into what the average person does with this app. Scary.
There’s a lot of theories about TikTok and why it was created. The one I particularly subscribe to based on what I know at this point is that it’s an app designed to distract, divide, and dumb-down society, specifically western society. It’s been long reported that Russia and China have been trying to find new ways to fracture Western countries. We’ve seen insane amount of Russian troll farms and misinformation campaigns, and now it’s entirely plausible that China has an app that will make the average moron even more of one.
The entire app is based off celebrity culture, being popular, funny, and accepted. More or less the same thing that we see with all social media. TikTok did what Snapchat was trying to do. They tapped into a market and dominated. It’s no surprise platforms like YouTube and Instagram quickly added short video clips to their repertoire of features. But, you’re getting sucked in, forgetting about the possible implications – if you even thought about them to begin with – probably not.
And there we have it. A culture of people further locked into their phones and worried about how many likes, re-shares, cameos, or whatever it is, only this time it totally collects more data than Facebook, and also does some really messed up stuff.
Oh Look! The FCC Is Calling Bullshit.
Ahhhhh yes, the FCC. The American equivalent to the CRTC. Absolutely useless when it comes to regulating things they are supposed to regulate. Who could blame them, after all most of the committee is made up of old executives from the major telecom companies. So, when one of these organizations speaks out about something going bad, you best believe it’s 100x worse than what’s reported. Which is why this recent announcement by the FCC should be an air raid siren for every TikTok user out there. The commission that seemingly can never find their whistles are blowing them with gusto all of a sudden? This is NOT good.
The thing is, if these regulatory commissions were serious, they’d be passing very strong, and very iron clad legislature that would strike down this type of stuff that TikTok is pulling. The problem is optics and red-tape. Do you really think it’d fly if the app was banned from the western market? Surely another would pop up shortly there-after, right?
Regardless, the public would be outraged. There would be riots in the streets, people would be wearing “TRUDEAU TURFED TIKTOK” and “BIDEN BANS FREE SPEECH” shirts, and there’d be complete social unrest. After all, people are addicted to this worse than crack in the 80’s or Oxy’s during the opioid epidemic.
Just look at the statistics according to Vividata:
Every month, an average of 3.2 million Canadians are on TikTok.
60 percent of Canadian TikTok users are women and 40 percent are men.
Parents are avid users of the social network, with almost half of Canadian frequent users saying they have kids under 18. Parents of kids between 12 and 17 years old are 65 percent more likely than the average Canadian to use TikTok more frequently.
TikTok users are more active online than the average Canadian. They’re online up to 27 hours each week, which is four hours above the national average. They’re online with their mobile phone up to 18 hours each week, beating the national average by six hours. Additionally, they spend up to 11 hours each week on social media compared to the national average of eight hours/week.
47 percent of TikTok users agree that, “I feel the need to check social networking sites every day.” Nationally, 37 percent of average Canadians agreed with that statement.
This app isn’t going anywhere. It’s here to stay, and the only way to properly combat it is to remove it IMMEDIATELY.
Oh Look. It’s True.
Maybe I’m not absolutely crazy, right? Quite literally google “Tiktok privacy concerns” and you’ll get pages upon pages of writeups from people far more intelligent, and far more accredited than myself. To summarize a bit, from Dec 2019 US Military banned it’s use for all personnel as it was labelled as a “cyber threat”. Reddit’s CEO has harshly condemned TikTok’s practices. The country of India has completely banned TikTok. I could go on for hours with high profile examples like this, but if you’re not already wiping your phone of the parasite, I doubt much will get you to change your mind at this point.
It got revealed a few days ago the platform which is collecting mass amounts of data on US and Canadian citizens is being accessed by the Chinese Government. This isn’t just one person claiming this, it’s coming from over 80 leaked internal conversations within the company, 9 employees, and a lot of very deep analysis.
Again, I can hear the people saying already “so what, who cares. What is the Chinese Government going to do with my name and birthdate? I didn’t even fill in real information!”. Heh. Except it’s sucking up everything else. Everything you ever copy on your phone (it has full control of your clipboard), every keystroke you make (ie: it knows all your passwords), your browser history, what apps you have, what apps you use, your geolocation at all times, and possibly worst of all, it collects all of your biometrics from faceprints, voiceprints, and other identifiers. Imagine if you found out that your creepy co-worker was doing this to your phone. You’d call the police instantly and you’d be reporting then in hopes they were fired immediately. So, why don’t you care when it’s a foreign power that has a pretty long list of human atrocities?
I honestly just don’t get why everyone is so incredibly passive about this.
Just Delete It Already
Ask yourself – what does it honestly do for you? It’s funny? It’s fun? It’s a good thing to keep busy with while you poop during work hours? Anyone on an Android or Apple phone can track how many hours they use particular apps. Consider looking at those numbers and see if you’re surprised. If my ex is any indicator, she spent the better part of 2-3 hours a day just flicking through videos and forwarding them to everyone she knew. I doubt she’s an isolated case. What else could you be doing with that time?
While writing this article I found more than enough videos and otherwise of “new tiktok trends”, “ZOMG YOU’LL NEVER GUESS”, and absolutely mindless trash like that. Compilation videos that just make my skin crawl. I sit and wonder how many people spend hours watching that one couple that makes absolutely repulsive viral food. You know the one… where they create a base of marshmallows, add fruit loops, drizzle with Aunt Jemima simulated maple flavoured corn syrup, smear peanut butter, add a ton of bacon, then bake it for 30 minutes at 375? I feel like Michael Jatas. Fuck, I will vomit. Not to be outdone by this new trend of people restocking their fridges and pantries. This is what you’re spending time on.
If you’re going to argue that there’s so many other aspects to the platform, like the ability to collaborate, message people, or get information – you’re doing it wrong. There’s text messaging, collaboration platforms, and ACCREDITED news networks to provide you the same information. Then again, if you’re getting your news from TikTok, you’ve got a bigger problem than pissing away your life watching viral videos.
Maybe try and experiment. Don’t delete your account. Just delete the app from your phone for 2 weeks. Can you do it? If you’re not addicted, it should be simple, right? And if you are, isn’t that a problem – that you’re addicted to a viral video app? Think about it. Try and last 2 weeks, without reinstalling. Find other ways to spend your time, and I’ll venture to guess you’re not just sitting on the couch bored in the time you’d generally be on this app. What would happen if you found yourself in a park reading a book, or taking up a new hobby, or writing angry blog posts on the Internet like this one? The point is, even with all of the absolutely horrid security concerns this app poses, it’s biggest detriment to your life is the amount of it that is wasted.
I would never want to discount the communities that have been formed on the app, or the help that has been provided to others. I have never used the app, so I can’t directly comment from personal experience, however I have heard things such as “I’m totally in [queer/cooking/ant farm/IT nerd/pimple pooping/stupidhumantricks] TikTok.
Massive movements of hope have been formed on the platform. People have found a place they’re accepted, and feel safe. So many lost souls have found their proverbial tribes. This is amazing, and I’d never discourage these things.
However, my argument is that these types of interactions can absolutely be formed on other less horrific platforms and should be. TikTok is just another trend like Facebook, which we all know is little more than a festering pool of ads, “suggested” posts from terrible “ZOMG THIS IS VIRAL#JL#)#@$$” content farms. A platform that is widely considered only used by the boomer generation to share Minion memes and divisiveness.
I’d love to see people move these types of communities off platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, or Instagram and instead go back to a more pure place such as message boards. This isn’t the old crotchety asshole in me remembering the “good old times”, but more-so someone who is interested in privacy. Maybe that’s an idea in itself, for someone to push an app that was more community driven, with a true agenda to push forward a community, instead of capitalizing on others trying to do so.
All opinions, posts, comments, & content are solely that of my own. They in no way, implied or otherwise, represent the views or opinions of any business, corporation, or entity that I may be associated with.