published : 2023-11-04

Chinese-Owned TikTok Manipulating Gen Z, Warns Tech Expert

Nearly 40% of Gen Z Rely on TikTok and Instagram as Primary News Sources

A Gen Z individual engrossed in using TikTok on their smartphone, taken with an iPhone 12 Pro

Tech expert Kara Frederick, director of the Heritage Foundation tech policy center, has raised concerns about the manipulation of America's youngest generations through Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok.

During an interview on 'The Bottom Line,' Frederick emphasized the urgent need to address this issue, stating, 'The information environment is being actively manipulated by our enemy. It is a five-alarm fire and we don't even know what that's going to look like 10 years from now.'

Frederick expressed worry about the long-term consequences of young people internalizing and believing manipulated information, as they will eventually become the next generation of influential individuals in society.

She urged for a ban on TikTok and similar platforms, citing the potential impact on future judges and lawyers who are currently exposed to CCP-influenced propaganda.

Google executive Prabhakar Raghavan also highlighted the trend of Gen Z relying on TikTok as their primary search engine, rather than established platforms like Google. Over half of Gen Z reportedly use TikTok as their number one search engine.

Tech expert Kara Frederick discussing the impact of social media manipulation on 'The Bottom Line,' captured with a Canon EOS R5

This shift in behavior raises concerns about the information Gen Z is exposed to, with Kara Frederick noting that searches on TikTok often result in a flood of CCP-influenced content on topics like Gaza and Israel.

While TikTok spokespersons deny any government influence or manipulation on the platform, concerns remain about the close ties between TikTok and the Chinese Communist Party.

The state of Montana became the first to ban TikTok this year due to fears of Chinese misinformation and influence. TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, filed a lawsuit claiming that the ban infringes on the First Amendment rights of Montana's residents.

Frederick encouraged Congress to enact legislation to regulate TikTok and similar platforms, but until then, she supports other states following Montana's lead.

Eighteen state attorneys general, including Virginia, have expressed support for the Montana ban, highlighting the need for action if Congress fails to act.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen addressing the TikTok lawsuit, photographed with a Sony A7 III

It remains to be seen how the ongoing litigation will unfold, as TikTok challenges the Montana ban in the court system.

Kara Frederick's call for oversight and regulation of TikTok aims to address the concerns surrounding the platform's potential to manipulate and influence young minds.

This issue is not only about TikTok but also about the future of how information is consumed, shared, and believed.

The impact on future generations and their role in society will be shaped by the actions taken to address this pressing issue.