Worried about TikTok? Do Not Overlook CapCut

March 18, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I find the excitement about TikTok interesting. The US wants to play the reciprocity card; that is, China disallows US apps so the US can ban TikTok. How influential is TikTok? US elected officials learned first hand that TikTok users can get messages through to what is often a quite unresponsive cluster of elected officials. But let’s leave TikTok aside.


Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good enough.

What do you know about the ByteDance cloud software CapCut? Ah, you have never heard of it. That’s not surprising because it is aimed at those who make videos for TikTok (big surprise) and other video platforms like YouTube.

CapCut has been gaining supporters like the happy-go-lucky people who published “how to” videos about CapCut on YouTube. On TikTok, CapCut short form videos have tallied billions of views. What makes it interesting to me is that it wants to phone home, store content in the “cloud”, and provide high-end tools to handle some tricky video situations like weird backgrounds on AI generated videos.

The product CapCut was named (I believe) JianYing or Viamaker (the story varies by source) which means nothing to me. The Google suggests its meanings could range from hard to paper cut out. I am not sure I buy these suggestions because Chinese is a linguistic slippery fish. Is that a question or a horse? In 2020, the app got a bit of shove into the world outside of the estimable Middle Kingdom.

Why is this important to me? Here are my reasons for creating this short post:

  • Based on my tests of the app, it has some of the same data hoovering functions of TikTok
  • The data of images and information about the users provides another source of potentially high value information to those with access to the information
  • Data from “casual” videos might be quite useful when the person making the video has landed a job in a US national laboratory or in one the high-tech playgrounds in Silicon Valley. Am I suggesting blackmail? Of course not, but a release of certain imagery might be an interesting test of the videographer’s self-esteem.

If you want to know more about CapCut, try these links:

  • Download (ideally to a burner phone or a PC specifically set up to test interesting software) at www.capcut.com
  • Read about the company CapCut in this 2023 Recorded Future write up
  • Learn about CapCut’s privacy issues in this Bloomberg story.

Net net: Clever stuff but who is paying attention. Parents? Regulators? Chinese intelligence operatives?

Stephen E Arnold, March 18, 2024


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