I have to admit that I was late to the party with TikTok. It only sprung up on my radar during the Covid lockdowns when my Chinese friends told me they were passing their time at home by watching videos of people dancing, singing and clowning around. I assumed it was only for young people until my friend Xisu (age 72) wrote “we are enjoying watching strangers goofing around on TikTok – makes us laugh which is a good thing!”

So if we needed any more evidence that US politics has gone totally crazy, the US Rep vote (by 352-65) to order TikTok to divest its US assets within the next 6 months (i.e close down or be forced to sell to an acceptable buyer, presumably at a significant discount to their current US$75 billion valuation) or face a total ban is, amongst other things, an extraordinary attack by the leaders of the free world on many freedoms that we now take for granted e.g. free trade, free speech and free markets. Imagine the outcry if another country applied the same ruling on a US private company!

It’s hard to predict how this sorry state of affairs will play out (especially with the 2024 election coming up and Trump opposing the TikTok ban for reasons not yet fully understood) but it raises many questions about the future of globalisation and the role of politicians in determining how private companies are free to operate within their own sphere of influence.

Looking at the list of popular social media platforms (see below) including other Chinese apps (notably Wechat which is 5th on the list) it has to be assumed that the weaponising of digital apps, social media platforms and technology (not to mention AI) by US politicians (and the retaliation likely to follow from the Chinese Government) has only just begun. Another reason to hide under the doona!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *