Technology · January 15, 2023

TikTok Accused of Serving Different Versions of App to China and Rest of the World: ‘Opium’ for the World and ‘Spinach’ for China

TikTok, which is known as Douyin in China and is owned by ByteDance, has two different versions of its app, one for local and one for global consumers. However, it has been reported that these versions also have different algorithms and principles, which raises concerns.

Before dive into the topic let us go through a recent survey results that says, the top career aspirations for pre-teens in the United States and United Kingdom are social media influencers, while in China the top career aspiration is to become an astronaut.

Here is a summarized table of differences of these two variants of TikTok based on the podcast by Harris a former Google design ethicist,

DouyinTikTok
Pruned algorithm which only shows science experiment, educational and patriotism contents.There is no such moderation; You’ll see all those influencer and pointless dancing garbage.
Default daily usage limit for children is 40 minutes/day.There is no such limit by default and recently launched an option to set limit, but it is off by default.
There is a kids version for children under 14 years.There is no such versions.
No keystroke tacking reported yet.The in-app browser will track all your keystrokes (Passwords, Logins and whatever you type).

I think we can clearly see a suspicious curve here and now did you remember that survey result you read at the top? It may sounds like a conspiracy but, I think social media platforms (Specially TikTok) have a lot to do with that. Apart from that based on rose.dev TikTok also collecting user data without proper consent as well.

TikTok Accused of Serving Different Versions of App to China and Rest of the World: 'Opium' for the World and 'Spinach' for China

So, What do you think, it is still worth selling your privacy, brainwashed and loosing your originality for a pinch of dopamine hit? I don’t think so…

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