According to CNN Business, the U.S. government is considering banning the use of Chinese social media apps like TikTok. The review is due to an abundance of caution about who gets access to the data scraping and user profiling, plus the techniques of bad actors using bots connected to social media to amplify the emotional contagion long associated with these apps and studied by companies like Facebook.
We have seen bad actors field bot armies using Twitter routinely, especially the 50¢ Wu Mao Army paid to influence public opinion of the ruling Chinese Communist Party and the Google-backed fake bot army used to interfere in the European Parliament’s Copyright Directive. The press called out the fakery by Google in exposes by the Times of London and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung among others.
It also must be said that someone mustered a bot army to engage in creating fake enthusiasm regarding attendance at the Trump campaign rally in Tulsa. Love him or hate him, the fact that this interference could be manipulated through TikTok, particularly in the way it was done, is reminiscent of other bot army attacks. This time it was a campaign rally, but what will it be next time? And even if you don’t support Trump, ask yourself how you will feel when it is done to your candidate or an issue you care about?