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Social media is watching you, so watch your back

Will Timmons ’24
Be wary, Social Media can manipulate what you see and don’t see.

All of your likes, shares, locations, and credit card swipes have been meticulously recorded in a multitrillion-dollar a year industry, figuring out everything about you. No, this isn’t a dystopian thriller movie, it is the world we are living in right now. With companies like TikTok tracking every move you make, they now have the required data to affect our current elections. They can do this as a tech company did on Facebook in the 2016 election.

Cambridge Analytica is a British tech consulting firm that gathered over 5,000 data points on all American voters. They were able to do this in 2014 through a researcher from Cambridge Analytica. He developed an app called, “Thisismydigitallife”. The app pays users $1-$2 to take a personality test and to give the app access to their Facebook profiles and their friends. Hundreds of thousands of people did this and they were able to match their personalities to hundreds of thousands of other people who liked and disliked the same stuff on Facebook. Through this, they were able to target middle-ground voters with right-wing advertisements all over their feed. Cambridge Analytica was spending $1 million a day on these targeted ads.

TikTok, a foreign adversary, now can do this in-house without having to hire any outside companies. This is harmful because almost 80% of TikTok’s users can vote. TikTok knows this and will use its large grasp on young American voters and do what Cambridge Analytica did. They’ll flood it with propaganda that would help elect a president that would help China the most. China’s best interests are not always our best interests, which is why it is extremely dangerous. When TikTok released the ‘TikTok Shop’ they promoted all videos with a link to TikTok Shop to be seen on your feed. If you have scrolled through TikTok at all in the past week, it is blatantly obvious what they are doing. They can do this when the election gets closer, where they flip a switch and start promoting videos that talk about who TikTok wants to win.

Always be wary on the internet, because you are always being shown something for a reason.

With this amount of data and reach they have into the Western World, it affects more than just elections. If they ever wanted they could flood tiktok with Chinese propaganda, changing Western society without having to step foot in the US. This isn’t terrible, but with too much Chinese influence, it can be damaging to western society. Some of Chinese culture can hurt the US because of different agendas they want to push.

Although some may say, “How is this any different from Zuckerberg pushing whatever agenda he wants onto his apps?” This is true to a degree, large corporations don’t always look out for the common people. But for the most part, Zuckerberg has more of the US’s interest in mind than a foreign adversary like China does. Zuckerberg wants to see the US thrive so he can continue to be rich and build his empire.

So next time you’re scrolling, don’t be so susceptible. Always be wary on the internet, because you are always being shown something for a reason. If you see something on the internet that seems like blatant propaganda, try to report it, just to spread word about it.

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About the Contributor
Andrew Dolan
Andrew Dolan, Features Editor

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