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TikToks data mining is more than a conspiracy theory.

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TikToks data mining is more than a conspiracy theory.


Much like how Netflix and Instagram use interactions with media as ways to gauge interest, TikTok does as well. However, the thing that sets TikTok apart is its ability to gauge nontrivial information. It can analyze the music in the background, the caption, and most importantly, the content itself.

Instagram wont know your political affiliation just based on the photos you like. The photo could say I love Republicans but if it was posted by someone Instagram thinks is a Democrat, Instagram is likely to think you are a Democrat. TikTok, on the other hand, is able to gauge analyze the material of the content itself. This leads to inevitable bias, which again is worthy of its own article, but based on its analysis, it can say that if a white girl uploads a video of her dancing, its likely to be more popular than an Indian boy doing the same dance. Forbes talks about this too.

Daksh Trehan put together an article that goes more in depth about potential methods TikTok might actually employ to analyze this data. Im not really going to touch on that here.

Thats just the tip of the iceberg. By these complex analyses, TikToks profile of you is much, much stronger than anything Cambridge Analytica could have put together in 2016. The average user spends 46 minutes a day on TikTok. If we conservatively estimate the average TikTok to be 30 seconds, that means we have 92 TikToks per user that can be analyzed per day. 92 pieces of content to determine what a user likes, what a user doesnt like, what a user really likes, and what a user really doesnt like.

Based on the videos you interact with, TikTok can easily determine your gender, your race, and even your political affiliation based on how you interact with political content. Combine this with information on your location, and what you get is a supercharged Cambridge Analytica data mine of knowledge about you.

It would be plain ignorant of me to hint that TikTok is doing all of this to make it seem like theyre the only ones doing it. Facebook, Google, and every major company that provides free software is doing the same thing.

As we progress in these seemingly scary digital times, its important to note that if theres a big company providing a free service, youre not the consumer, youre the product. Your data is the asset the company is using to make money. With Facebook and Google, your data (hopefully) isnt being sold to other companies; rather its being used to suggest targeted ads.

In conclusion, it is scary to think about how all these companies are taking data from us, and more scary that its happening right under our noses, to say the least. However, when its an American company, we have some amount of hope in that if the company does something wrong, we can at least do something to regulate them. Just this week, we had a hearing where the CEOs of Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook, all came together to testify about their companies before Congress. You cant always do that with a foreign entity.

I know the TikTok debate can foster a lot of anti-Asian sentiment, and Im not trying to promote any of that here. Im just saying that TikTok is an example of how every free software from a large company isnt taking our data we give it to them. It just so happens that TikTok cant easily be regulated by the US.

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Don’t Count Hillary Out

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Don’t Count Hillary Out



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Remembering Judge Stephen F. Williams

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On Saturday, I noted with sadness the passing of the Honorable Stephen F. Williams, a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Given Judge Williams’ importance for administrative law and the academy, I thought it was worth noting some of the additional remembrances and celebrations of his life that have been posted since.

Several of Judge Williams’ former clerks memorialize him at Notice & Comment, where Aaron Nielson also celebrates Williams’ intellectual legacy and notes the large number of legal academics who clerked in his chambers. TheWashington Post obituary is here.

Judge Williams was a regular panelist and participant in programs at the American Enterprise Institute. In 2002 he lectured on legal reform in early 20th-century Russia (broadcast on C-Span), a subject that he also addressed in two books. AEI remembers Judge Williams here.

In 2006, a portrait of Judge Williams was hung at the D.C. Circuit. A transcript of that ceremony, including remarks from his colleagues and several former clerks, can be found here.

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Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself one year ago, setting off wave of conspiracy theories and celebrity denials

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Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself one year ago, setting off wave of conspiracy theories and celebrity denials


Jeffrey Epsteins death, regardless of circumstances, robbed his victims of the chance to confront him in court. What we need to remember about Epstein is not how he died, but the terrible damage he and his cohorts did to countless young girls when he was alive and, by remembering, commit ourselves to bringing to justice his cohorts and enablers, and to never again tolerating such abuse, said attorney David Boies, who represents some Epstein accusers.

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