If you’re like many musicians and artists and have finally committed to dipping your toe in the waters of TikTok, don’t let this post dissuade you. On the other hand, keep the following information in the back of your mind as well. The level of scrutiny of the platform has recently ratcheted up yet again as a result of reports that four American journalists have recently been spied on by TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, and that’s not sitting well with the U.S. Government as it contemplates a TikTok ban.
Security analysts have always been wary about TikTok because of its ties to the Chinese government, since ByteDance is headquartered in China and its well-known how tight a grip the leadership of that country has on its companies. The fear has always been that with so many people using TikTok so much, all that personal data is being collected and may be used against U.S. citizens in the future as a result. Many say chalk this up to paranoia, while others say it’s better to be safe than sorry.
TikTok is indeed getting a closer look as it’s currently under investigation by the Committee for Foreign Investment (CFIUS), the FCC and the FBI. The United States Government has gone a little further as it does not allow the app on any government-issued phones, and some universities have taken the initiative of banning the app on campus. It was banned by India over two years ago.
So if that isn’t serious enough, the spying on journalists may be a step too far. According to a story in the Financial Times,
“Over the summer, four employees on the ByteDance internal audit team looked into the sharing of internal information to journalists. Two members of staff in the US and two in China gained access to the IP addresses and other personal data of FT journalist Cristina Criddle, to work out if she was in the proximity of any ByteDance employees, the company said.”
The article goes on to say that a BuzzFeed journalist and several users connected to the reporters through their TikTok accounts were also targeted in the ByteDance probe.
This could be much ado about nothing, as the common logic had been that there’s so much data being being collected that it’s too difficult to process. On the other hand, when individual journalists are targeted that makes one think that there really is something to the paranoia.
Again, if you’re just getting into TikTok as a musician or artist, it’s still a good idea to go ahead with your plan. Any TikTok ban will take some time to initiate, so you might as well reap any rewards while you can. On the other hand, you might want to think twice if you’re a journalist or work with sensitive information.