The TikTok Emu Was Just Stressed
You may recall that a couple weeks ago, the Chinese video sharing app TikTok was in the crosshairs of the US Justice Department’s investigation into political disinformation on their platform. In response to US demands for information, TikTok claimed they were no longer able to turn over certain data to the US government, and that they would only provide the US with ‘certain public datasets’. Given the size and scope of the US government’s mandate – it is only possible to obtain a fraction of its data requests – this wasn’t particularly surprising. However the company’s responses to the US demanded that it would ‘take immediate steps to address’ the allegations.
At the time of writing, US Department of Justice attorneys have yet to respond to the company’s ‘take steps’ demands. And in the space of the last couple of days, several pieces of news have shown that the US government has taken them seriously. Today, it was revealed that the company has in fact been fined a whopping $1.7 million – or the equivalent of several million Facebook shares.
However the fine is more than just the price of the company’s public humiliation. This fine is not actually about the company’s willingness to comply with a US subpoena. In fact, the fine is due to the fact that the Justice Department chose to go after TikTok instead of Facebook and Google. And the reason that Facebook and Google are not under the Justice Department’s crosshairs is primarily that they were in part to blame for the problems with TikTok’s Russian meddling story.
TikTok’s Russian meddling story has been the key issue in the US government’s review of TikTok’s compliance with its investigation. And since the Justice Department is targeting TikTok, the US government’s focus on that company is the least of its concerns. While the DOJ’s main concern is that the