Opinion

Why Sri Lanka must stay clear of the free-world’s TikTok bogey

Summary

For some TikTok is another social media platform, for many it is a lifestyle, one that provides validation that they too belong in a club, an influential one. The app is under siege, by the bastions of free speech who want to create a bogey out of world’s fastest growing app. Sri Lanka must stay clear and not take sides.

For some TikTok is another social media platform, for many it is a lifestyle, one that provides validation that they too belong in a club, an influential one. There is a glitch though, TikTok is under siege, by the bastions of free speech, now lecturing the world the reverse and creating a bogey out of the world’s fastest growing app.  

In May 2019, the former government of Sri Lanka banned social media platforms to tackle post-Easter bombings violence unfolding in Kurunegala. The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) opposed the move, saying there is no “substantive” evidence to show that such bans which are common in South Asia, can “scale down violence.” Victims on the ground said the opposite, but international organisations operating in sub-zero temperatures have the last say, even more than the victims of violence. Fifteen months later, when the US – not a South Asian country — banned TikTok allegedly because the app could give Asian-giant China access to US user data – which does not involve violence, the IFJ remained in slumber.

It is puzzling why US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is shedding tears over unsubstantiated claims that China may compromise US user data. Lest we forget one of their own citizens Edward Snowden is in Russia exile for telling the world how robustly US administrations compromise privacy and data of its own citizens. In October 2013, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel went public that US intelligence spied on her phone. Her so called friend Barack Obama offered an apology to Germany – one of US strongest allies. It is rich of the US to accuse any other country or app of spying.

Starting in Tunisia in 2010 and throughout the US-aided Arab Spring, apps like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook helped protesters organize across the Middle East. The platforms were used to speak against oppression and hoped for democratic future. Ecstatic liberals cheered as the autocrats were brought down by paramilitary groups which included children armed by the Western nations. The liberals disappeared into oblivion when the well-funded overthrows plunged the future of its citizens into a precipice. The US-based social media platforms which greased the expulsions with or without collusion, spread their tentacles and tactics world over raking in billions along the way.

Nearly a decade later, in June 2020, TikTok helped give the US – the architect of the Arab Spring, a taste of their own medicine. TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music groups registered hundreds of thousands of tickets for Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa as a prank. A tweet by the Trump campaign team asked supporters to register for free tickets using their phones. K-pop fan accounts helped the message go viral, but with a catch. They asked followers to register and not to show up. Trump’s campaign boasted an expected 1 million attendees, but only 6200 showed up at the damp squib. Three months later, TikTok paid a price, an order to sell its US business to an American firm or face a ban. The latter has come into effect.

The libtards are not up in arms, because the ones impacted from the TikTok ban in US or India are not from their wine tasting class. There is silence, because the elites struggle to grasp how a girl from the estate-sector line homes or boys from the coastal community are worthy of any following for simply lip-syncing and dancing to Hindi, Tamil or Sinhala songs – such gross content making. TikTok does feature some questionable content, but hardly anything that has not been in its US rival platforms.

Director General of the Telecommunications and Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), Oshada Senanayke this week countered questions on TikTok’s threat to Sri Lanka.

He emphasised it was not necessary for Sri Lanka to take action against Chinese mobile applications, although other countries have, unless the applications have been identified as a potential threat to Sri Lanka. Such clarity from a top TRCSL official is commendable, given the nature of the question which appeared to elicit an answer that can support the TikTok bogey theory – one that Sri Lanka must stay clear of, for the sake of impartiality.  

Image – Mimicnews.com

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