Internet

Why TikTok and other social platforms are the new age of online surveillance?

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Corona has disrupted our lives like never before and the humans are facing the worst ever self-isolation the world has seen to date.

As expected the use of social media platforms has increased greatly and people are trying to connect with each other as much as possible.

TikTok can be safely assumed as the app of GenZ world over.

Now, it’s a concern for the US as the app’s parent company is from China and given the bitterness between the two countries, it was somewhat expected.

However, is there more to it?

Definitely, there is!

What’s more to TikTok than meets the eye?

The app which has been downloaded over 1.5 billion times has been a source of entertainment for many and that’s where the concern lies.

Why?

The Guardian came up with an investigation that revealed leaked documents where the moderators of the app were instructed to censor videos because it was sensitive in nature to the ruling party of China.

Secondly, the Hong Kong-based pro-democracy protests were missing from TikTok videos whereas it was a hot topic on other social media platforms.

Does that mean it poses a national security risk?

Not entirely, but yes the Chinese government has always been against open discussions in free societies which can pose a challenge to the world in the future.

Also, China does not adhere to the policies when it comes to intelligence sharing for which the world has been trying to compel them for a long time.

All the noise so far has been in the wake of US users data being sent to China, however, TikTok has responded back against the allegations leveled by the US authorities by stating that it stores all the US user data in the United States whereas they have a backup server in Singapore.

So, is TikTok really the age of Online Surveillance?

It most definitely is because data is like a gold mine and corporations and governments use it to their advantage. But is it true for other platforms too? Let’s find out…

What about other Social Media Platforms?

While TikTok is one app, there are countless others that have also been accused of mass online surveillance.

World over, the governments are deploying and purchasing new technologies to examine the behavior of their own citizens on social media. And it’s not just developed countries that are guilty of this act, but also poor and developing countries have also gotten their hands dirty.

But is there any justification for such behavioral mass surveillance?

Well, there are both advantages and disadvantages to this kind of mass surveillance. Through surveillance, law enforcement agencies have no doubt taken down terrorists. However, it has also consequently affected those who are just vocal against the policies of the government.

I guess what I’m trying to say, if you try and push beyond certain unknown limits, you are going to face the repercussions.

Considering that TikTok has become so strong that only a handful of influencers can lead millions into chaos and anarchy at any given time, it’s pretty obvious why governments use it for mass surveillance.

Now, this gives the justification to the intelligence agencies to monitor the activities of an individual online. There are laws in the place where the public is taken into account about their rights. It means the citizens have limits and if anyone tries to breach it, the law will come into effect.

From Self Driven Monitoring to Machine Driven Monitoring

Yes, there is no secret that the public is being monitored. But the question is, how are they monitored? The answer to that is through the use of complex algorithms.

Data is collected and processed which is being pulled from social media platforms using an automated technology where large sets of data also known as metadata are aggregated, organized, and analyzed in real-time.

Billions connect daily with their loved ones and exercise their right with complete freedom on expressing their views. Now, these views can be political, religious, or social but the value they hold in the eyes of advertisers and agencies is tremendous.

Furthermore, the advancements in AI (Artificial Intelligence) have opened new doors for mass surveillance with more accurate data.

With the help of Natural language Processing, a person can be monitored by mapping his/her relationships through link analysis and assigning meaning to his/her posts on social media. The conclusion to this assessment can be devastating given the data collected and analyzed could come out as inaccurate.

Conclusion

As I write, mass surveillance has been growing at a rapid pace giving law enforcement agencies the tools to further improve it.

Rightly so, the government has every right to limit disinformation but in doing so, even they at times cross the limits by punishing the innocent.

It’s hard to predict but the repression always has its everlasting effects and no one knows what the future holds for us.

Clearly, the world as we see today is in more chaos than the past century.  So as a precaution, one must look at alternatives to protect ourselves. I recommend using a VPN but before that, learn everything about VPN in this guide.

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About author

Sebastian Riley is an independent cybersecurity consultant and writer at thevpnexperts working to fight online censorship. Sebastian is also a passionate writer and speaker who enjoys spending his time educating people about emerging cybersecurity threats.
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