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How TikTok became a US-China national security issue

By Channel News Asia

Depending on whom you ask, the short-form video app TikTok is where you watch goofy dances and makeup tutorials, or it’s a gravely sophisticated threat to US national security.

Because TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance – and because China is known to be interested in having its technology companies share the data they collect – its ubiquitous popularity among Americans carries geopolitical implications far beyond the mobile-phone screen.


Like US-owned social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, TikTok collects all sorts of data about each user and through an algorithm, uses that information to deliver more of what the person seems to want.

But TikTok is viewed as potentially the most advanced, and uncannily effective, at learning about your interests – based on how long you stay with a video and whether you like, forward or comment on it – and, through its algorithm, delivering more of that to your “For You” feed. Some people joke that TikTok’s “For You” knows you better than you know yourself.

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