Is TikTok a Privacy Threat? [Content Made Simple]

Also, how infographics are saving lives amidst the coronavirus pandemic



TikTok is a privacy threat, but so are a lot of other apps you have on your phone.



TikTok has had major privacy concerns flare up in the past and is reportedly under investigation by the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission for potentially failing to adequately delete videos from users who are 13 and under, as required by law.

But that doesn’t mean the company is unique in how it handles user data, said John Davisson, counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a think tank that advocates for online privacy for consumers.

“I think TikTok's actions are alarming, and it is good that federal regulators are paying close attention to it,” Davisson said. “But it is ultimately one of many platforms that collect, and use, and analyze, and rely on, and profit off of personal data.”


There have been all kinds of rumors floating around about TikTok being banned in the U.S. as it has already been banned by India and the U.S. military. Is it concerning that TikTok is owned by a Chinese company that could theoretically be compelled to hand over user data to the Chinese government at any time? Yes, that is concerning. But I think this whole saga demonstrates how little we care about the fact that we hand over this data to shady corporations all the time. I think it’s just scarier for us to think of an oppressive government getting our data than…oppressive companies?


Social Qs #013: What’s the Deal with Cancel Culture?

About a week ago, over 150 writers, celebrities, and other public figures signed a statement against cancel culture. I wrote about it here, and we talked about it on the podcast this week. Social media is great for holding the powerful accountable for their actions. But the dark side of that is overreaction and mob justice. How do we approach this?


Link #1: A Beginner’s Guide to Handling a Social Media Crisis

I’m sorta proud of this nearly 2400-word guide on how to handle a social media crisis for people running social media for a brand. I think I may try to make it a free e-book at some point. It’s just a lot of what I’ve learned in handling social media crises over the last few years. I’ve had a lot of experience. :-)

If you try to defend your brand amidst a social media crisis, you may feel better, but it will make the situation worse. It is virtually impossible for a brand to win a social media conflict with a person or group of people. This is why it is best to lay down your sword and refuse to fight at all. People watching the social media conflict will always assume the brand is being defensive for nefarious reasons, and give the offended people the benefit of the doubt. Defensiveness never works in social media conflicts between brands and their audiences. Don’t try it.

Link #2: Why Infographics and Other Visual Content Are Saving Live Amidst COVID-19

This is an interesting article! Visual content is super helpful, and it’s great to see the gifts they’ve been given to help others.

For decades, Karl Gude has delivered timely visual content to the public. As the former director of information graphics for Newsweek and the Associated Press, he collaborated with writers, researchers, and graphic designers to cover everything from Columbine and 9/11 to the AIDS crisis and stem cell developments. So when the United Nations put out a call for creatives to help stop the spread of COVID-19, Gude sprung into action.

Link #3: Why Our Brains Want to Spread Misinformation

Really interesting piece.

Human life is plagued with misunderstandings, half-remembered facts, and cognitive biases. We agree with things that confirm our worldview. We listen to people who look like us. We ignore counter-examples. Facts do not change our minds.

Part of this is that sometimes true things don’t seem true. When you look at the sun, it does seem as if it goes round the Earth. From our position on the ground, it looks like the planet is flat. It’s pretty clear why Galileo wasn’t very popular. It’s a lot of work to change all your mathematical models and philosophical beliefs just because they’re based on something untrue.


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