TikTok and the Info Wars

Paula LabrotBy Paula Labrot

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TikTok and the Info Wars
TikTok, like its Chinese counterpart Douyin, is a short-form video hosting service owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. It hosts user-submitted videos, which can range in duration from three seconds to 10 minutes. TikTok is the fastest growing platform in the world, available in more than 150 markets and more than 35 languages. The app has seen more than 3.5 billion downloads worldwide, making it one of the most popular apps ever, according to Deborah D’Souza for Investopedia.com. Why So Popular? According to Neuroscience News, “Social networking sites grab us because they involve self-relevant information and bear on our social status and reputation. The greater your need to belong and be popular, and the stronger your brain’s reward centers respond to your reputation being enhanced, the more irresistible is the site’s siren song.” Media Shower, a marketing company, suggests that “One of the biggest reasons for TikTok’s runaway success is its focus on user-generated content. The app celebrates creativity and individuality, giving users a platform to share their unique perspectives and talents. This focus on self-expression is a huge draw for people of all ages. It allows them to express themselves in a way that feels authentic to their viewers.” Creators on the platform are able to get extremely creative with their content, putting together funny sketches and informative videos. Cooking, music and dance continue to be the most popular types of videos on TikTok along with lots of cat and dog videos. You can also find plenty of educational content covering topics ranging from health to investing. Users over 18 can livestream content, sharing real-time life experiences or using the platform as a broadcasting base. Talk about an opportunity for your fifteen, I mean ten minutes of fame! User Friendly Supportive Tools The TikTok platform provides features that make video creation super easy. It comes with a bunch of easy-to-use filters, stickers, animated gifs, emojiis, effects, sound effects, and a vast library of music and songs that users can easily incorporate into their videos. TikTok’s platform offers camera tools and effects like a green screen tool that allows creators to put themselves or their actors into any setting they want to be in. Tools like Duet and Stitch enable users to easily collaborate with each other or create content based off of other users’ videos. TikTok actively promotes interaction among users, who can buy coins to “tip” content creators whose work they admire or give “credit.” Credit is important because a video can go viral and be viewed by millions of people online. When that happens, the creators responsible for trends can miss out on bragging rights, opportunities to grow their accounts, and even campaign and sponsorship opportunities if they haven’t been credited with creating the video. In these ways, TikTok creates a sense of community and belonging for its users, and deeper, more detailed, accurate profiles of its users whose information is TikTok’s to do with as it wants to. Downside of TikTok The shrouded TikTok algorithm is a recommendation system that determines which videos will appear on your unique and highly personalized “For You” page. TikTok learns a user’s desires and attachments in as little as 40 minutes before beginning the process of bombarding the client with curated content designed to keep watchers fixated, according to a new investigation by the Wall Street Journal. It decides what you like based on view-time (length of video watched) and interaction (liking, comment, following) and other variables for each of the videos that it shows you. As the app gets to know the user, it builds profiles. So much personal data is mined as the algorithm learns its targeted user. It is often said the algorithm knows you better than you know yourself. A recent directive from the White House on Feb. 28, has given U.S. federal agencies 30 days to remove TikTok from government-issued devices. They feel TikTok could use its vast global reach to shape public opinion by either suppressing certain videos or promoting others. TikTok is famous for starting trends. One is the TikTok challenges. They have harmed children physically and mentally, and your child imitating these trends will risk injury or, worse, death. The Benadryl challenge had teenagers taking large doses to create hallucinations. Choking, burning yourself, and suicide challenges are aimed at children and teens. The prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that is responsible for analyzing, self-control and awareness, is not fully developed in children and teenagers. That’s why children are often easily influenced by external factors, according to Nahila Bonfiglio, geek culture reporter. Trending One trend that social media is leading is the cognitive warfare being relentlessly waged around the world. According to the NATO Alliance, in cognitive warfare, the human mind becomes the battlefield. The aim is to change not only what people think, but how they think and act. Waged successfully, it shapes and influences individual and group beliefs and behaviors to favor an aggressor’s tactical or strategic objectives. In its extreme form, it has the potential to fracture and fragment an entire society, so that it no longer has the collective will to resist an adversary’s intentions. An opponent could conceivably subdue a society without resorting to outright force or coercion. If you or your children use TikTok, have fun, but be aware. As benign as TikTok may seem, remember, it has an underbelly. Make sure you are in control, not the app. Vamos a ver!
Paula Labrot

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March 17, 2023