Monday, January 03, 2022

"TikToking" Into 2022

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As our clocks ticked past midnight this past Friday night we entered a new year with memories of the past year---and aspirations for the new one.

One thing that was true in 2021 and remains true in 2022: People can't get enough social media. We're obsessed with it.

And we are learning "it" is obsessed with us, as well.

We learned this week that Communist China's TikTok platform has surpassed the search engine Google as the world's most popular domain---mostly because of our kid's obsession with it.

Parents and grandparents---please be informed.

The most popular domains in 2021 were in this order:


The problem with TikTok

What makes TikTok different is that the company that owns and operates it---ByteDance--- provides the Chinese Communist Party control over the web domain.

The US Government has been warning about the dangers of using TikTok. 

According to six current and former TikTok employees, the firm was still controlled by ByteDance from their Beijing headquarters. ByteDance is a Communist Party-controlled company.  Four current and former staffers told Business Insider that discussions relating to TikTok’s products often require calls with employees at ByteDance’s China HQ and final product decisions are regularly made in Beijing.

An anonymous former staffer stated: “It’s that feeling a little bit in the US where you’re sort of helpless to a lot of the decisions that are made out of China.”

TikTok’s employees refer to the ByteDance Beijing office and its staff as “HQ” according to five of the current and former staffers. “Even our internal ticketing system will reroute questions to HQ, eliciting the response, ‘Oh no, it went to HQ,’” said one current staffer.

The exact national security threat that TikTok poses to the United States has been hard to pinpoint, given that the platform’s data collection methods resemble other social media giants and its overwhelming user base of U.S. teenagers. One particular fear among experts is how the platform could be used as a censorship and propaganda arm of the Chinese communist party.

Many believe it is indeed being used by the Party to influence and harvest personal information from America's teenagers.

“Guidelines from TikTok obtained by both The Guardian and The Intercept last year show the company instructed staff at one point to censor topics sensitive to Beijing, as well as people it deemed unattractive,” according to "Wired" magazine in 2020.

A report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) found that “TikTok has more invasive permissions than similar apps, allowing the harvesting of users’ passwords and credit card information,” according to the Washington Post.

Not only is TikTok a threat to our country and culture, but it's also a moral threat to our teenagers.

"No shortage" of Pro-LGBTQ content on TikTok.

Faithwire is reporting "there is no shortage of pro-LGBTQ content on TikTok videos, including the hashtag #Trans has garnered more than 26 billion views, with many of the clips featuring footage captured by young people playfully documenting their transitions from one sexual identity to the other, often undergoing hormone treatments to block or halt puberty, or recovering from body-modifying surgeries to appear more like the opposite sex."

Among GenZers (age 9 to 24) the viral platform is more popular than Snapchat and Instagram.

Experts say "gender" is now seen as the new rebellion, and "the platforms should be made to include a warning on such materials." 

I'm sure a memo to the Communist Party leaders from a concerned parent or Joe Biden would correct all this.

A spokesperson for TikTok told the press that they "are honored that the LGBTQ+ community has embraced TikTok from our very early days, as a platform for self-expression, education, community building, and joy."

"Our content," they said, "lets young people know they are not alone  in their experiences."

Is this content on what is now the number one social media platform in the world having an effect on our teenagers?

The Daily Mail highlighted this comment on the platform: "I used to be a good Christian kid, before going on to showcase a transformation to a 'trans' gay atheist who loves tattoos and chaos."

How should we respond?

In June, President Biden suspended President Trump's executive orders attempting to ban TikTok and its companion, WeChat, from the US market. Instead, Biden ordered the US Department of Commerce to "undertake an evidence-based" analysis of transactions involving apps manufactured, supplied, or controlled by the Chinese government.

"Analyzing" TikTok is not the answer parents are looking for. 

However, being informed is a step in the right direction.

I personally believe that parents and often, grandparents, should be very aware of what their kids are involved with on the internet. Monitor it whether they like it or not. The younger they are, the more guidance and oversight they need.

Don't be afraid to say "no" and the more convinced the kid is that you love him or her, the more willing they will be to cooperate. 

But always be informed.


Michael Brown wrote an article a couple of days ago in which he looked back at 2021 observing that last year was one of "mistrust and suspicion."

Among other things, he noted that the internet was responsible for a good deal of mistrust and suspicion.

I agree.

Brown says he, by nature, is a very trusting person but admits that "I genuinely do not know who to trust these days"---particularly as it relates to covid and the internet ... "But," he says, "I do not want to end my last article of 2021" on that note. Rather he wants to end one year and begin another with a declaration:

Instead, what I want to declare is that, overall, all this mistrust and suspicion doesn’t concern me that deeply since I never put all my trust in people (let alone in government institutions).  

My absolute faith and trust are in one place, namely, in the only one worthy of total trust, God Himself. To echo the words of Paul, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12). That is my source of strength and hope and courage and faith and assurance and wisdom and guidance.

And so, as we come to the end of a very difficult year for many, I encourage you to look to the Lord like never before – to the one who died for you and rose from the dead – and to put your unconditional trust in Him and Him alone.

As expressed by the courageous Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian friend of the Jews during the Holocaust who watched her family members die at the hands of the Nazis, “I’ve experienced His Presence in the deepest darkest hell that men can create. I have tested the promises of the Bible, and believe me, you can count on them.”

Be Informed. Be Engaged. Be Vigilant. Be Prayerful. Be Bold.