As if you needed any more reasons to delete or continue avoiding TikTok, new evidence suggests the CCP is more intimately involved in its algorithm than previously thought.
Released by the Network Contagion Research on Dec. 21, this study at least appears to indicate that the app, owned by Chinese company Byte Dance, is artificially boosting topics and hashtags helpful to the Chinese Communist Party’s goals, and suppressing those they find harmful or that contradict the party line.
The study examined a selection of hashtags containing sensitive topics for the CCP, topics aligned with the CCP party line, and topics on which the CCP is neutral, comparing the ratios of user engagement with those hashtags on TikTok and on Instagram.
According to the study, hashtags such as Uyghurs, Tiananmen Square, Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea seemed to be artificially repressed on TikTok, while more CCP-neutral topics, like Trump, Biden or pop culture showed a more organic ratio of user engagement.
And with hashtags related to causes the CCP wants to champion, like Kashmiri independence, the ratio seemed to indicate an artificial boosting of the topic.
Specifically, according to the study’s authors, “[while] ratios for non-sensitive topics (e.g., general political and pop-culture) generally followed user ratios (~2:1), ratios for topics sensitive to the Chinese Government were much higher (>10:1).”
TikTok’s Global Platform Anomalies Align with the Chinese Communist Party’s Geostrategic Objectives
In collaboration + @RutgersU, our report takes a data-driven approach: Does TikTok promote or demote content on the basis of CCP interests?
Short answer: It certainly seems so🧵 pic.twitter.com/5OJdODIqfl
— Network Contagion Research Institute (@ncri_io) December 21, 2023
Topics and hashtags relating to causes the CCP wishes to champion, however, seemed artificially boosted. For instance, the hashtag #standwithkashmir seems grossly overrepresented on TikTok.
As reported in the study, “[the] significance of the overrepresentation of #standwithkashmir specifically, with over 225 million posts, should not be understated. To contextualize the magnitude of this activity, consider that the total sum of #standwithkashmir posts outweighs the sum of all other political hashtags in our sample put together (23,176,698) by an order of magnitude.”
Of course, TikTok’s representatives in the U.S. have always vehemently denied that the CCP has any influence at all on the content users see on TikTok.
TikTok spokesman Alex Haurek was quoted in The New York Times, saying that “[the] report uses a flawed methodology to reach a predetermined, false conclusion. … [A]nyone familiar with how the platform works can see for themselves the content they refer to is widely available and claims of suppression are baseless.”
Still, Haurek’s claims did not seem to fully withstand the scrutiny of studies such as this one, and the existing evidence we have. As reported by conservative outlet OutKick, “BuzzFeed News reviewed over 80 internal TikTok meetings and uncovered a particularly ominous admission from a member of the TikTok Trust and Safety department: ‘everything is seen in China,'” an employee described as “high-ranking” acknowledged.
It’s hard to make a definitive claim either way at the moment, with China mostly keeping mum on the subject and TikTok’s representatives dismissing the claims as ludicrous, but the conclusions of this study do seem difficult to dispute.
For one thing, the sheer volume of radical left-wing videos on the platform, as demonstrated by the viral X social media account Libs of TikTok, seems to suggest TikTok as a whole is encouraging this kind of derangement.
For another, the prevalence of the pro-CCP, pro-Hamas, pro-BLM hashtags, based on the sheer numbers alone, do seem wildly disproportionate, which would seem to indicate that, as we have all suspected, TikTok is but an indoctrination tool of the Chinese government.
After all, we already know they steal and monitor users’ data to one extent or another. Why would artificially suppressing or boosting certain topics be out of the realm of possibility?
This new study once again appears to demonstrate the dangers latent in this innocent-seeming app. TikTok is not your friend, nor your child’s friend, nor America’s friend.
Its content might not be entirely dominated by left-wing and Communist propaganda, but only a neo-Marxist could see TikTok as a tool for any sort of good.
Let’s not let a silly video app allow them to finally achieve that goal.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.