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  • Okay Joss, I want to start with an experiment where we swap TikTok login information

  • to see just how different our feeds actually are.

  • I don't know what it's going to reveal about me.

  • I do wonder how different it's going to be.

  • Nurse turns into a hot lady.

  • OK so I just got literally the male version of that on yours. Look.

  • Oh my god.

  • Male nurse. Female nurse.

  • Joss there are so many animals on yours.

  • List of underrated horror movies.

  • I would never get that.

  • I've never seen this pushup challenge.

  • Yeah, I think TikTok recognized that I would prefer a funny version of this.

  • It recognized that I share a sense of humor with this person in Indonesia.

  • TikTok's frictionless personalization is what made the app an instant success around the world.

  • But now that global success is crashing into international politics, putting TikTok

  • in the middle of a worldwide battle over how open the internet should be.

  • "President Trump threatening to ban TikTok in the United States as Microsoft is hoping to acquire it."

  • WEI: I think Chinese tech companies traditionally have really struggled to get a cultural foothold

  • in the U.S. because the culture is just so different.

  • That's Eugene Wei, a Tech Product Executive who has written about how Tiktok, which is

  • owned by a company called ByteDance, became the first globally-successful Chinese app.

  • How they did it all comes down to design.

  • When you first open up TikTok, you don't have to follow anyone,

  • or tell the app about your interests, or even choose what to watch.

  • It shows you a video, and the only decision you have to make is how long you watch it.

  • WEI: So if you look at the history of social media, most of the giants in social networking today

  • started by having people essentially build up a social graph from the bottoms up.

  • A social graph is the web of accounts you follow and it determines most of the content

  • you see on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

  • The problem with that approach is that it can feel like work: building up a social network

  • takes time, you're not necessarily going to like every post from the accounts you follow,

  • and it's hard to find accounts that you would like but don't know about.

  • TikTok took a different approach. It bypasses the social graph, and instead builds an "interest graph,"

  • by watching you interact with videos. TikTok isn't the first platform to do that--

  • it's basically how YouTube works too -- but because TikTok videos are less than 60 seconds

  • long, you watch more of them, which means more data.

  • WEI: People talk about the TikTok algorithm as if it's some magic piece of software that

  • is just miraculously better than every piece of software out there. But the truth is that

  • it's not necessarily that the algorithms themselves have gotten that much better. But if you massively,

  • massively increase the training data set that you train the algorithm on, you can achieve

  • really amazing results. And that's why I think a lot of people will describe the algorithm

  • as eerily accurate. Eerily personalized.

  • TikTok's interest graph introduces you to

  • like-minded people. And because the videos are often music or meme-based rather than

  • language-based, you may find that some of those like-minded people live on the other

  • side of the world. They might be a dancer in Nepal, a family

  • in Mexico, or kids in the U.K, or this guyas long as the algorithm predicts

  • that it'll entertain you.

  • WEI: And so in that way, the TikTok algorithm

  • kind of allows ByteDance to gain traction in markets all over the world, with languages

  • that they don't understand, subcultures they don't understand.

  • TikTok's global appeal enabled it to reach a billion users faster than the other social

  • media giants had. But it also set the app on a collision course with a different trend:

  • the rise of internet nationalism. "India is banning TikTok and dozens of other

  • Chinese apps." "Australia has cited concerns about national security. So too has South

  • Korea." "President Trump issued executive orders that would ban TikTok and messaging

  • app WeChat from operating in the US in 45 days."

  • Bytedance is based in China, which means it's subject to surveillance by a regime known

  • for censorship, human rights abuses, and cyber espionage.

  • But TikTok says they have never provided any US user data to the Chinese government.

  • For his part, President Trump has hinted that this is actually about getting revenge for

  • the coronavirus. VAN SUSTEREN: Why would you ban it?

  • TRUMP: Well, it's a big business. China -- look what happened with China with this virus,

  • what they've done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful.

  • But whatever the motivation, the US targeting a globally popular app is a big deal -- because

  • it throws a wrench into one of the biggest debates over what the internet should be.

  • A New America Foundation report plots that debate along a spectrum-- of how open the

  • internet is within a country. SHERMAN: So on the one pole, we can visualize

  • the free and open model, so that's the democratic model, very little state involvement in Internet

  • content. As the original home of the internet and many

  • of the world's biggest tech companies, the US has traditionally advocated for the free

  • flow of information online. SHERMAN: The opposite end of the spectrum

  • is what we see in countries like China, where there is heavy state involvement in content,

  • where they do go to Internet companies and say, you have to censor all of these keywords,

  • you have to censor all these foreign websites.

  • China's Great Firewall famously blocks sites

  • like Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Netflix, WhatsApp, and many western news outlets.

  • But it's not just China anymore. SHERMAN: What we see in the middle are countries

  • who I think are going to play a pivotal role going forward in this global scale tipping

  • we see. According to analysts surveyed for this report,

  • many of these countries shifted toward less openness between 2014 and 2018.

  • In 2019 Russia moved to build an internet that is isolated from the rest of the world,

  • following years of increasing government censorship. Turkey has been blocking some news websites

  • and recently passed a law giving the government sweeping powers over social media.

  • And India, the world's largest democracy, leads the world in deliberate Internet shutdowns.

  • "Turning off the internet is becoming a defining tool of government repression." "Internet

  • access shut down" "Imposed an internet blackout" "Ethiopia" "Liberia" "Venezuela" "Pakistan"

  • "taken offline." As governments decide that a world wide web

  • doesn't suit their interests, we end up with a fractured internet, what some call "the

  • splinternet" where national borders increasingly dictate what information people can access

  • online. Now it's up to democratic countries to reimagine

  • an open internet worth fighting for. Instead, the US is threatening to ban a platform used

  • by millions of Americans. SHERMAN: The US benefits from having technological

  • leadership, it benefits from promoting a democratic Internet model and contesting authoritarianism.

  • And so abdicating leadership on that front is not good in the own interests of the US either.

  • TikTok created a uniquely international platform.

  • But it emerged onto an internet that wasn't quite ready for it. It arrived in the midst

  • of rising nationalism, from a country that has never respected internet freedom.

  • So now it's forcing the issue: When authoritarian states assert control over online speech,

  • should the US respond by doing the same thing?

Okay Joss, I want to start with an experiment where we swap TikTok login information

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The problem with banning TikTok

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/08/31
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