Concerns about the threats TikTok poses to privacy and liberty were raised again, as a bill to divest TikTok of its Chinese ownership or ban it gathered steam in the United States Congress. And Canada’s federal government revealed that it began investigating months ago whether foreign control of the app poses a threat to national security.

Government officials see TikTok posing a threat to Canadians in two ways: violating our personal privacy by collecting too much data, and sabotaging our democracy through misinformation and manipulation.

Are these threats theoretical or real? And is there any proof supporting the concerns that the Chinese government exerts control over ByteDance Ltd., the Beijing-based company that owns TikTok?

There is good reason to believe TikTok may pose a threat to our privacy, but not to our democracy. The platform may collect too much data, but fears that China will use TikTok to misinform or manipulate us for political purposes are misplaced.

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Iron Will

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