The Wall Street Journal, the more conservative daily newspaper of New York City voiced support for Trump's moves against TikTok in an official editorial, while also raising some mild apprehensions. The August 5th editorial said: "Mr. Trump has threatened a ban, but that would weaken competition and do nothing to limit Chinese big-footing abroad." It seems apparent to the WSJ editors that TikTok would not disappear simply because it was banned from the US market, and that the restraints and compromises TikTok has made to remain available in the United States would no longer be in effect.
However, in the Wall Street Journal's criticism of TikTok, some odd statements appeared. The editors wrote: "Last year TikTok was accused of censoring videos of Hong Kong protests. ByteDance denied this and said protest videos didn't appear in users feeds because they weren't popular with users."
The editorial goes on to quote ByteDance, the parent company behind TikTok, as saying it restricted "demonisation or distortion of local or other countries' history such as the May 1998 riots of Indonesia, Cambodian genocide, Tiananmen incidents" and "highly controversial topics, such as separatism, religion sect conflicts, conflicts between ethnic groups..."
Are Social Media Apps Require To Promote Instability?
The implication behind the Wall Street Journal's words is that somehow it is the duty of TikTok and other social media apps to promote events like the Hong Kong Protests. TikTok has never censored such videos and many critics of the Chinese government who support the Hong Kong protests are vocal on the app. However, TikTok has not highlighted these videos and allowed them to show up in newsfeeds the way western apps such as Facebook and Twitter have.
It is no secret that the US State Department and intelligence apparatus has used social media to advance its goals. During the Arab Spring events of 2011, the Hillary Clinton State Department was quite open about the fact that it coordinated with Google/Alphabet and other tech giants. Jared Andrew Cohen of Jigsaw directly advised Hillary Clinton during this time, and is currently an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Leaks have revealed that facebook has "News Curators" who select which stories go viral and which stories do not. Individuals targeted by the US government such as Alexander Dugin, have been removed from platforms like youtube.
Its not secret that Washington used Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other outlets to push its geopolitical agenda, and attempt to weaken Russia and China and other anti-imperialist states. However, the new question is this: Was Social Media created simply to serve empire? Was this the entire purpose to begin with?
Washington and Silicon Valley
In 1999, the newly accessible internet was key in enabling the Falun Gong extremists to stage a series of well coordinated protests across the Chinese mainland. It was in response to these moves that China began exercising more control over the world wide web. The same year we saw US State Department backed "activists" in Otpor engage in a series of disruptions that eventually resulted in bringing down Milosevic and the socialist government of Serbia. They utilized the internet for their actions as well.
The links of Silicon Valley to American intelligence are no secret either. Loans from the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies enabled Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Erich Schmidt and others to set up their tech monopolies.
As far back at the 1970s, US geopolitical strategists realized that despite the fact that the USSR was very effective at developing computer technology on its own, it simply did not have the resources to invest in it. The NATO treaty banning the sale or sharing of high technology to the USSR and the constant need for spending in the nuclear arms race (dubbed an arms "catch up" by Michael Parenti) made it impossible for the USSR to build its own silicon valley.
The US market sector wasn't exactly promoting the computer revolution either, as it involved quite a bit of risk. However, the intelligence agencies, seeing an opening geopolitically, arranged for southern California to have a government subsidized tech boom. This put the USA ahead of the Soviet Union and centered the emerging global tech sector around the United States.
So, if the Computer Revolution itself was a scheme to advance US power, and the social media giants openly work with the US state department and intelligence apparatus... was social media a plot all along?
Was the entire goal of social media to coordinate protests and disruptions around the world? Was Facebook, Twitter, and youtube set up simply for the purpose of destabilizing anti-imperialist countries and securing the post-Cold War hegemony of Wall Street and London ?
The idea that TikTok is illegitimate as a social media app, simply for not allowing Hong Kong Protest videos to blow up in people's news feeds, certainly gives that impression. Social media may have been a geopolitical scheme all along.
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Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".