NICOLE RUSSELL: TikTok is a national security threat

TikTok has become an unusual national hot-button. From presidential debates to Biden’s visit with China, the social media app fires up conservatives and lures our younger generations into an abyss of anti-American content, financial misinformation, and invisible data sharing. TikTok is even worse than we thought for our younger generations.

About 80% of TikTok users are ages 16-34, a wide range to be sure, but still young enough to be malleable, especially Generation Z, most of whom are on the app. TikTok is owned by the China-based company ByteDance and the Chinese Communist Party has accessed data to identify protestors. It’s bad enough that the app purported to collect personal data and information. TikTok is so toxic that it’s already banned from federal government devices. Montana straight up banned the app entirely. Florida has banned the app in schools. Texas banned the app at universities. Nepal just banned the app because it’s “disrupting social harmony.”

There’s more bad news. One new study from Wall Street Zen showed that nearly three-quarters of Generation Z learned about personal finance from TikTok and YouTube. TikTok is the most popular social media platform for Gen Z to learn about finance. About 83% have encountered “misleading information about personal finance on social media” and “61% of Gen Z agree that learning personal finance on social media can create peer pressure and the fear of missing out.”

Given the rise of social media influencers, who earn income by posting about their lives and brand affiliations online, coupled with a coming recession, it’s not surprising that Gen Z is learning about money from an already-corrupt app, but it’s not comforting either.

Misinformation about finances isn’t the only thing capturing Gen Z’s attention and in fact, it might be the least of the bad information out there. Osama bin Laden’s “Letter to America,” which circulated after the 9/11 attacks and acted as a manifesto against America, justifying the attacks, has found new life again on TikTok.

Pro-Palestinian activist Lynette Adkins urged her massive following on TikTok Tuesday to read the words of the leader of Al Qaeda who orchestrated 9/11 and disdained Western values, particularly America.

“I need everyone to stop what they're doing right now and go read- It's literally two pages. Go read 'A Letter to America," Adkins said in the video. “And please come back here and just let me know what you think because I feel like I'm going through, like, an existential crisis right now and a lot of people are, so I just need someone else to be feeling this.”

Appreciation for Western values and the American ideal are already in peril. We’ve seen that over the course of the last five weeks as Generation Z failed to respond to the Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel with any kind of moral clarity, let alone courage. TikTok seems to have created, or at least, perpetuated this mindset, goading young people who live in America and enjoy the lifestyle the Constitution has created, to simultaneously disdain their freedom and Western values, while logged onto their newest iPhones and roaming elite universities. 

Still knowing this, President Joe Biden eagerly visited with China’s President Xi Jinping Wednesday in California. While diplomacy is fine and good, and there’s a time and place for it, China is a strategic threat and an ally of North Korea. It was disappointing to see Biden talk about issues like artificial intelligence when China has committed grievous human rights violations and it seems like it would have been far more beneficial to take a tougher stance on more important issues, than chat about the loss of the pandas from the National Zoo.

America will only thrive and remain as free as her next generation is willing to fight for it to be so. So far, with TikTok as their main source of news, politics, and financial advice, it doesn’t look like Generation Z is even ready for that fight, let alone interested in it. It seems like, in addition to misinforming young people about how to handle money, TikTok spreads anti-American propaganda while data-mining the very people they’re influencing. TikTok is definitely worse than most people realize.  
 

Image: Title: Tiktok xi
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