Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

‘The United States Has Embroiled Itself in a War It Cannot Win and Has No Business Fighting’

Sarah Jeong, the Verge:

TikTok does gather a lot of personal data, but it’s no more than what Facebook and other social networks also gather. The difference between TikTok and Facebook is that we have a great deal of transparency into the process by which Facebook gives your information to various governments. And specifically, Facebook does not release data to the Chinese government.

When it comes down to it, the thorniest privacy dispute of 2020 isn’t about privacy or technology at all — it’s about China. The question “Is Facebook better, worse, or the same as TikTok?” is more or less the same as “Is the United States better, worse, or the same as China?”

And in 2020, this is becoming a genuinely difficult question to answer. China is detaining over a million Uighurs in internment camps, citing national security issues. The United States detains migrants in its own internment camps, even going as far as to place children in cages. China is not a democracy; the American president has proposed to unconstitutionally delay this year’s election. China brutally represses its political dissidents; in America, law enforcement in military camouflage have grabbed protesters off the streets and shoved them into unmarked vans.

This is probably the best piece I’ve read about the executive orders against WeChat and TikTok, and the so-called “Clean Network” policies that Mike Pompeo is promoting. There remain vast differences between U.S. and China policies, but the trick to maintaining the moral high ground is to not simultaneously narrow the gap, as the U.S. is presently doing.