TikTok we all know it even if we don't use it. It is a social network of Chinese origin (and this alone should make us reflect on how much partner not so hidden di putin & co.) whose heart is the sharing by users of more or less interesting, more or less stupid short videos.
In recent years you have certainly heard the passenger sitting behind you on the train or bus or the neighbor with an umbrella on the beach who, by compulsively scrolling through the screen of his smartphone, played high volume songs for a few seconds. Well, he was definitely watching TikTok.
But we don't want to focus on criticizing the very concept of using this app, but the implications that bind it to the war in Ukraine.
TikTok, cute Russian propaganda videos.
We all learned that the Kremlin's war in Ukraine had been planned for years now. Between propaganda weapons fielded, TikTok has played a vital role in the most unexpected way. No posters of heroic military interventions, no dictatorial arms race proclamations (oh God there are those too, we know there is never an end to the worst). In this case it has gone even lower, producing thousands of viral contents with a barely hinted propaganda, spreading videos both internally and externally to the Russian borders (with a focus obviously particular to the Ukrainian market) with kittens, puppies, jokes and funny stories to paint an unhealthy West and a Russia instead home to freedom and justice.
The targeting of propaganda messages then was (and still is) very targeted. For Russians the hidden message is defend ourselves against Western oppression, for Ukrainians it is instead a call to accept Russia as their only hope of salvation against the country's dismemberment by greedy NATO allies. All transmitted in the form of strictly Russian-language skits with cute little animals.
We know how the human mind works. Perhaps she does not receive a clear, strong and sincere message, a warning of immediate danger, while if subjected to seemingly harmless small daily inputs she gradually manages to get used to and assimilate the message and make it her own, whether right or wrong.
TikTok and the problem of sharing personal data
Another great one dark side of TikTok lies precisely in the management of personal data, which apparently for users of the Chinese social network in this case have the value of waste paper.
We are all ready to be indignant when we receive an unwanted e-mail on our mail accounts, to appeal to the privacy guarantor for having received a commercial communication of a discount on the purchase of a mattress, while we blindly accept that our profiling data will be transferred to the Chinese government without getting anything in return.
A law in China from 2017 in fact forces Chinese tech giants to hand over all data of users' use of their services and apps to the Chinese government. I want to see you address the Italian postal police to get them out of the clutches of the dragon.
Yet the US and the EU warned us about TikTok
"Forewarned is forearmed" it was once said, now we don't believe even a clear warning is needed to save us since we blatantly ignore it.
The 30 December 2022 US President Joe Biden has signed a law banning the use of Chinese social media on all devices owned by US government bodies. The motivation is "national security".
In fact, there are many gray areas of this app and several investigations are underway in Washington to verify fears of an illegal collection of sensitive data of its users by the company that owns TikTok and to confirm that this app may have been used for spying on high-level American journalists and diplomats.
In February 2023, following the United States (as always), the EU has also introduced the TikTok ban from the devices supplied to employees of the European Commission with a view to compliance with cybersecurity laws.
In practice: we are careful not to be spied on.
The danger to military and civilians
The use of apps with security holes has been and still is one of the focal points of national security in Ukraine. Many apps and websites have been banned (if not banned at least their use has been discouraged) because through the interception of conversations and the use of spied data it is possible for the Russians to locate strategic targets for their bombing, endangering the lives of civilians and military. And so in many cases it was.
The geolocation of smartphones and the use of apps such as TikTok has allowed the Russian military to locate groups of Ukrainian soldiers and strike their positions causing deaths and injuries.
Of course, the Ukrainian army was also able to respond in the same way, locating and hitting entire units of invaders, but why risk it?
TikTok, final considerations
On these same pages we have already talked extensively about how an ethical choice in terms of consumption (see the movement B4Ukraine which keeps all those companies still in business in Russia under pressure) could damage the Kremlin's war machine by not supplying state coffers with rubles ready to turn into weapons of death for civilians and for Ukrainian defenders.
Russian propaganda already does its job admirably within their borders, we do not (yet) allow ourselves to be influenced by bizarre fake news that distorts reality and which aim step by step to establish both in Ukraine and in the West the germ of doubt that has allowed in the last 20 years to tolerate any Russian wickedness in the name of a point of view to be shared based solely and exclusively on lies and conditioning.