Imagine it's the Cold War. Imagine that the Soviet Union puts itself in a position to influence the television programming of the entire Western world — more than a billion viewers.
While this might sound like science fiction, it’s representative of the world we're living in, with TikTok being influenced by the Chinese Communist Party.
TikTok, the flagship app of the Chinese company Bytedance, recently surpassed Google and Facebook as the most popular site on the internet in 2021, and is expected to reach more than 1.8 billion users by the end of 2022. The Chinese government doesn't control TikTok, but has influence over it. What are the implications of this influence, given that China is the main geopolitical rival of the United States?
This week on Your Undivided Attention, we bring you a bonus episode about TikTok. Co-hosts Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin explore the nature of the TikTok threat, and how we might address it.
Tristan Harris started his career as a magician. He studied persuasive technology at Stanford University, and used what he learned to build a company called Apture, which was acquired by Google. It was at Google where Tristan first sounded the alarm on the harms posed by technology that manipulates attention for profit. Since then, he's spent his career articulating the insidious effects of today’s social media platforms, and envisioning how technology can serve humanity. Today, Tristan is the executive director and co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology.
Aza Raskin was trained as a mathematician and dark matter physicist. He took 3 companies from founding to acquisition before co-founding the Center for Humane Technology with Tristan and Randima Fernando. Aza is also a co-founder of the Earth Species Project, an open-source collaborative non-profit dedicated to decoding animal communication. Aza’s father, Jef Raskin, created the Macintosh project at Apple — with the vision that humane technology should help, not harm, humans.
Pew's recent study on how TikTok has established itself as one of the top online platforms for U.S. teens
Article on recent Congressional responses to the threat of TikTok
A revelation that TikTok has code to observe keypad input and all taps