I Still Can't Get Over These Videos Of Congressmen Grilling The CEO Of Tiktok Last Week And Having Absolutely Zero Clue How Anything Works Or What Anything Is; Including Wi-Fi. How Do These People Get Dressed In The Morning, Nevermind Run Our Country?
Wired - IN ONE SENSE, today’s US congressional hearing on TikTok was a big success: It revealed, over five hours, how desperately the United States needs national data-privacy protections—and how lawmakers believe, somehow, that taking swipes at China is a suitable alternative.
For some, the job on Thursday was casting the hearing's only witness, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, as a stand-in for the Chinese government—in some cases, for communism itself—and then belting him like a side of beef. More than a few of the questions lawmakers put to Chew were vague, speculative, and immaterial to the allegations against his company. But the members of Congress asking those questions feigned little interest in Chew’s responses anyway.
Attempts by Chew, a 40-year-old former Goldman Sachs banker, to elaborate on TikTok’s business practices were frequently interrupted, and his requests to remark on matters supposedly of considerable interest to members of Congress were blocked and occasionally ignored. These opportunities to get the CEO on record, while under oath, were repeatedly blown in the name of expediency and for mostly theatrical reasons. Chew, in contrast, was the portrait of patience, even when he was being talked over. Even when some lawmakers began asking and, without pause, answering their own questions.
This was big news last week and because it took place on Capitol Hill I figured it was dead on arrival from being blogged, but I think I found an angle and am going to give it a shot.
The Angle: "how do these congressmen and women get out of bed and get themselves dressed in the morning?
How can you have one job, which come with insane perks, and rewards, be given an army of Ivy League interns and staff who do all the actual work for you, and still be this bad at your job?
These videos are unreal.
Even my 89-year-old nonna knows the basics of WiFi, congressman Hudson.
This guy sits on the Committee of Commerce and Energy.
Google, what the fuck does the Committee on Commerce and Energy actually do?
For 206 years, the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the oldest legislative standing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, has served as the principal guide for the House in matters relating to the promotion of commerce and to the publics health and marketplace interests.
In performing this historic function, the Committee has developed what is arguably the broadest (non-tax-oriented) jurisdiction of any Congressional committee. Today, it maintains principal responsibility for legislative oversight relating to telecommunications, consumer protection, food and drug safety, public health, air quality and environmental health, the supply and delivery of energy, and interstate and foreign commerce in general. This jurisdiction extends over five Cabinet-level departments and seven independent agencies--from the Energy Department, Health and Human Services, the Transportation Department to the Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, and Federal Communications Commission and sundry quasi-governmental organizations.
The six subcommittees provide the full Committee with enormous flexibility to keep pace with American enterprise. Indeed, the history of the Committee on Energy and Commerce reflects the history of Congress as it has worked over the past 200 years to assure the prosperity of the nations dynamic economy and its citizens.
So we've got leaders in Washington tasked with protecting our best interests, public health, and market economy that aren't capable of asking if an app can use your daughter's iPhone as a trojan horse to in turn access all other devices on your home internet network (which is what I think Hudson's intern who typed up his brief wanted him to ask) because he has no clue how the internet and wifi actually works?)
Speaking of protecting us, Rep. Buddy Carter from Georgia pushed a conspiracy theory that TikTok uses "the phone's camera" to watch viewers' eyes and boost videos that make our pupils dilate to the FYP, and wasn't backing down.
And on and on the circus went.
"If I just keep repeating "source code" I'll sound smart and like I know what I'm talking about. Yes or no question sir!"
I am in no way defending Tiktok, or any of the apps that have taken control of our minds and poisoned society. Quite the contrary actually.
Back in 2020 I blogged about the Netflix doc, "The Social Dilemma" and how terrifying it was.
Not sure if you've seen it or not, if you haven't you need to, but it's basically all the social app developers saying in their own words that they forbid their own children from using the apps they themselves helped develop because of how dangerous they are, as well as Harvard psychologists and engineers describing the framework for how these apps are designed to suck us in and keep us coming back for tiny dopamine hit after tiny dopamine hit.
And it's what's going on across the board. with all of them.
Which is why it's kind of bullshit that the government is setting its sights on Tiktok while a company that's got a pretty horrific track record, (remember Cambridge Analytica?) like Facebook sits back, pointing, yelling "get them".
Not just that, but does anybody find it odd that Zuckerberg went from public enemy #1 in D.C. to the new "go-to" for how big tech oversite should run?
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Stoked Washington’s Fears About TikTok
Social-media tycoon emphasized threat from Chinese internet companies as he worked to fend off U.S. regulation of Facebook
WSJ - Tucked into the speech was a line pointing to Facebook’s rising rival: Mr. Zuckerberg told Georgetown students that TikTok doesn’t share Facebook’s commitment to freedom of expression, and represents a risk to American values and technological supremacy.
In a private dinner at the White House in late October, Mr. Zuckerberg made the case to President Trump that the rise of Chinese internet companies threatens American business, and should be a bigger concern than reining in Facebook, some of the people said.
Mr. Zuckerberg discussed TikTok specifically in meetings with several senators, according to people familiar with the meetings. In late October, Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.)—who met with Mr. Zuckerberg in September—and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) wrote a letter to intelligence officials demanding an inquiry into TikTok. The government began a national-security review of the company soon after, and by the spring, Mr. Trump began threatening to ban the app entirely. This month he signed an executive order demanding that TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance Ltd., divest itself of its U.S. operations.
In addition to Mr. Zuckerberg’s personal outreach and public statements about Chinese competition, Facebook has established an advocacy group, called American Edge, that has begun running ads extolling U.S. tech companies for their contributions to American economic might, national security and cultural influence. And Facebook overall in the first half of this year spent more on lobbying than any other single company, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2018, by contrast, it ranked eighth among companies, the center’s data show.
Just food for thought.
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