TikTok no worse than Facebook for Privacy (although TikTok China is terrible - but no shock there)

So, there it is. After a full analysis conducted on behalf of University of Toronto Lab, it shows that there is no evidence of anything terrible, or any different, from what is happening on Facebook. Whereas, of course, the Chinese version is utterly terrible (but that is something we all knew anyway)

Now, this is important. Because it teaches us two very important lessons;

  1. We need to stop jumping on Bandwagons because it fits our narrative.
  2. We have to stop doing the “shiny thing” approach, which plays into the narrative of Social Media companies that are established within the west.

What do you mean?

When the original TikTok report came out on Reddit, it became a thought germ.

People I know and trust ended up sharing the report as fact, which was near impossible for anyone to replicate. And after the study, we now know why - it was because it wasn’t true.

However, what did we do as a community? What we did was worse - we changed the global focus on Facebook and Google’s analytics to “the Red Chinese Threat”. It’s far more palatable to consider it is China harvesting your data for nefarious purposes, than the big scary situation that is happening on your doorstep.

Am I saying that we shouldn’t focus on China? Of course not. However, we should make sure what is said is true. Otherwise, we are very much in danger of becoming the Daily Mail.

“Coffee gives you Cancer”. “Coffee cures Cancer”. “Green Tea is good for you!”. “Green tea destroys your teeth”.

This means, however, we need to keep consistent standards. Including if it doesn’t agree with our narrative.

It’s not very often I defend Facebook, but we did it again with the Whatsapp Privacy Policy change.

Many people that were reviewing the Policy stated that Facebook would handover your data to Facebook and they would be able to view all of your WhatsApp messages. This snowballed and was not true. FT Article.

So what did a lot of users do? Many changed to Telegram. The service that was breached with over 42 Million Chat account records being exposed by Iranian Intelligence Bloomberg Article

So, what do we need to do?

For us to be trusted, we have to “think before we speak”. Cybersecurity is such a wide topic. We should not jump to conclusions without using critical thinking.

And we have to admit, we can’t share and comment on areas of cybersecurity that we do not actually understand. And we should be able to make sure everyone else can actually replicate it.

We need to start actually treating cybersecurity as a science. And not using it as a buzzword.