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Commentary: TikTok’s extraordinary rise signals a more multipolar Internet



What about doable Chinese authorities affect? TikTok’s father or mother firm ByteDance, a personal firm final valued at US$180 billion in December 2020, has ring-fenced its worldwide operations by creating a separate company construction based mostly in Singapore. TikTok says all its worldwide customers’ information is held within the US and Singapore and – from 2023 – in Ireland, too. The firm insists no private information flows to the Chinese authorities, nor wouldn’t it give Beijing entry to such information even when requested.

In his well-researched e-book, TikTok Boom, Chris Stokel-Walker investigated these claims. He discovered no proof for systematic leakage of private information. But engineers in China did entry some information to check algorithms or spot bot assaults, for instance.

“TikTok isn’t a social media sleeper cell waiting to be activated remotely on millions of Westerners’ phones,” he concluded. “The reality here is that there is no big con, but instead a little white lie.”

Even if that conclusion is appropriate, it may not assist. Some US senators are nonetheless attacking TikTok as an instrument of Chinese gentle energy. There is a danger that the corporate would possibly but endure the identical destiny as Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications gear producer blacklisted by the US.

But if TikTok can keep away from changing into a geopolitical punchbag, it’d come to symbolise a second within the evolution of cyber area: The Sinicisation of the worldwide Internet, as tech analyst Ben Thompson calls it.

In this digital world, more Chinese-style centralised management of content material by way of suggestion algorithms turns into a function, not a bug. For a number of many years, the US has dominated the norms, values and practices of the buyer Internet. The rise of TikTok factors to a more contested future.

Source: www.channelnewsasia.com

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