TikTok in Context: It Is Technology, Not the Wizards Writing Code

March 23, 2023

Note: Written by a real, still alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, thank you.

Yep, let’s focus on technology; specifically, online and digitization. The press release / essay “MEMO: TikTok Is a Threat. So Is the Rest of Big Tech” does not name names. The generalization “technology” is a garden spray, not a disciplined Banksy can of spray paint. Yep, technology.

The write up from the Tech Oversight Project states:

Right now, lawmakers are weighing the virtues of a TikTok ban in the United States versus a forced divestiture from Chinese Communist Party-connected parent company ByteDance. Regardless of which direction lawmakers choose, focusing solely on TikTok does not fully get at the heart of the practices every platform engages in to cause so much harm.

And the people? Nope, generalizations and a handful of large companies. And the senior managers, the innovators, the individuals who happily coded the applications and services? Not on the radar.

The document does include some useful information about the behaviors of large technology-centric companies; for example and these are quotes from the cited document:

  • Facebook developed a censorship tool in an attempt to court Chinese engagement.
  • In an effort to court the Chinese market, Google developed a censored version of its platform for use in China and was forced to backtrack under pressure from human rights organizations.
  • 155 of Apple’s top 200 suppliers are based in China.

My view is that specific senior executives directly involved in okaying a specific action or policy should be named. These individuals made decisions based on their ethical and financial contexts. Those individuals should be mapped to specific decisions.

Disconnecting the people who were the “deciders” from the broad mist of “technology” and the handful of companies named is not helpful.

Responsibility accrues to an individual, and individuals are no longer in second grade where shooting a teacher incurs zero penalty. Accountability should have a shelf life akin to a pressurized can of party cheese.

Stephen E Arnold, March 23, 2023


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta