TikTok and the Politics of Exclusion

Let’s be honest. There are lots of politicians who don’t like women and BIPOC people to be empowered, to have their own following and to have political power. And Americans, particularly white male billionaires don’t like losing especially when the odds are already stacked in their favor. This has been evident in recent weeks as Congress shows contempt for TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, in their less-than-respectful hearings. Why is it that seemingly well-educated white men have such a problem showing normal and proper respect to women and BIPOC individuals? It’s not that hard really. But just like Ketanji Brown Jackson’s hearings reveal, some still have a problem with women and people of color staying in our perceived place. Believe me, I have plenty of criticism of Tiktok, but it seems our political leaders are engaging in co-optation, jocking on the behalf of Big Tech to takecontrol of the Tiktok movement  in order to promote its own agenda. If you can’t beat them, legislate them to death?

I am all too familiar with the dark and unfair side of the internet, I’ve been in the game for over 20 years, in recent years, technology has increased, along came Covid in 2019 and my tech skills increased and barriers to entry (pricing) came down. Tiktok decided to do what few tech companies have, share the power with it’s users. Not like Facebook or others who enrich themselves first, they decided to open up their platform to anyone willing to do the work, anyone with talent (or lack thereof) and with the guts to try something new. The result: The Tiktok Movement. People who once had no voice, suddenly had a voice….but the hundreds of thousands, by the millions. Corruption was exposed, people felt heard and brought together. People were “Woke”.  And now the politicians, who did all the research of a horny teenager doing a book report on Puritanism, had zero shame in revealing to the world their basic lack of understanding on a topic they hope to legislate, and their inability to show basic respect and decorum for anyone who does not look and think like them.

In my own 20 year struggle to establish a viable tech business, I have been some victories and many, many disappointments, many of which come from the double-standard of tech companies who will cheat me to my face and give opportunities to my competitiors. Google has done it, and most likely still does it.  Most recently for me, it’s Coinbase ,which has proven to be the biggest disappointment. I’ve promoted them for a couple of years at least, but they don’t wanna share profits and rumors are that they eliminated their affiliate program. A year ago (or so) I wrote that this is often the canary in the coal mine for companies. Especially if they give no guidance or help to the people trying to promote their services.

I have other indicators I watch for, but again…I have to be discreet on what I publish publicly. I post here mainly to vent and organize my thoughts. Nobody knows anything about what I mention until after it passes, then…everyone knew all along. Sigh.

The digital world is full of malice and dark actors…with billions if not trillions at stake, and they all want to control your every move. People need VPNs and privacy and to ban them would be ill advised. The Elon Musks of the world want to control the everything and know everything you think, say and do, this is antithetical to freedom, and must be resisted at all costs.

I have been supporting Tiktok for years, and sounding the alarm on their shadowbanning practice, and I made a plea to AOC and Corey Booker about 8 months ago warning them of the danger of them putting their thumbs on the scale and blocking certain groups. But I am certain to ban VPNs is going too far. With Tiktok I am conflicted, because Tiktok has done much to empower creators, especially BIPOC creators and strengthen communities, and I predicted this possible ban would happen over a year ago. People don’t like others, especially women and BIPOC to have too much power, influence and money, and they work to stop it by any means at their disposal. When they don’t win by the rules, they make up new rules mid-game until they win. We must become better at playing the lobbying game and politics.

It’s a double-edged sword really. Because on one hand Tiktok is oppressive, but it is also the most egalitarian and empowering platform out there. If Tiktok could manage to take their finger off of the scales.

Talk of banning VPNs is going too far and jailing people for for VPN usage? In America? I need to read this bill more closely. If true, it would be, in essence a forfeiting our freedoms to those with the deepest pockets and it will be the end of all privacy. Always of course for the sake of “keeping us safe”. #theRestrictAct #restrictact Now keep in mind, I’ve been saying this for three years. Another interesting note, most of Tiktok’s moderators, who are and have been heavy handed in suppressing the content of Black and Brown creators are in Tennessee….and they are not a diverse population even by Tennessee standards. It’s good Congress is looking, but they need to look in the right places and not throw the baby out with the bathwater. And definitely, do not kill free market competition and favor the white billionaire boys, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg under the guise of keeping us safe. It will not. It will only increase distrust because it will unfairly punish those Tiktok creators who work very hard (and it is work) to build a following and to have power and agency in their own lives. And don’t think we won’t realize that this is an attempt to keep the lions asleep in this “anti-woke” movement. We are awake and we are staying woke AF.

Black Tiktok Says Content Suppressed

Tiktok’s hands on the scale

Shadowbanning is Tech’s Big Problem

#CoreyBooker #AOC #shadowbanning