The NATO to TikTok Pipeline: Why is TikTok employing so many National Security Agents?
TikTok has become an enormously influential medium that reaches over one billion people worldwide. Having control over its algorithm or content moderation means the ability to set the terms of global debate and decide what people see. And what they don’t.”
“CALIFORNIA – As the bloody conflict in Ukraine continues to escalate, so does the online propaganda war between Russia and the West.”
“TikTok itself has taken steps to align itself with U.S. government policy, deleting more than 320,000 Russian accounts and removing at least 41,000 videos peddling misinformation about the war. In addition to this, it has placed warning labels marked “Russia state-controlled media” on 49 accounts linked to the Russian government. Like other big social media platforms, it has not done the same to Western state-owned outlets such as the BBC, RTÉ, or the CBC.”
Readers who consider TikTok little more than a fun app to watch short videos of people dancing are behind the times. From a modest beginning, it has exploded in popularity, growing exponentially from 85 million global users in early 2018 to 1.2 billion by late 2021 (with a similar monstrous growth in revenue to boot).
It is exceptionally popular among the younger generations. The 2021 Reuters Institute Digital News Report found that 9% of people aged between 18 and 24 worldwide had gone to TikTok to get news over the past week, while 31% of that age group used the app in that period (and therefore likely passively consumed news to some extent). Furthermore, it has a very loyal user base, with the tens of millions of U.S. TikTok users spending an average of 68 minutes per day on the platform.
Thus, TikTok has become an enormously influential medium that reaches over one billion people worldwide. Having control over its algorithm or content moderation means the ability to set the terms of global debate and decide what people see and do not see. MintPress invited TikTok to comment on its relationship with the government, but has not received a response.
This is far from the first time the national security state has pulled this trick, however. In 2018, Facebook came under enormous pressure from the U.S. government, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself being hauled in front of both the House and the Senate to face hours of grilling over the platform’s role in privacy, content moderation and spreading Russian disinformation. Only weeks after this, Facebook announced a new partnership with the Atlantic Council, whereby the group would serve as Facebook’s “eyes and ears,” taking considerable control over its content moderation, supposedly in an effort to weed out fake news and disinformation. The Atlantic Council, however, is NATO’s think tank and serves as its brain trust, with no fewer than seven former CIA directors on its board. Since then, Facebook (or Meta, as it is officially known), appointed former NATO Press Officer and current Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Ben Nimmo to serve as its head of intelligence. In addition, Facebook’s new global director of content policy, Mark Smith, was formerly employed by NATO as an advisor to its deputy commander.”
” For years, Reddit took a free-speech absolutist position, even defending hosting clearly illegal sexual content. However, Ashooh’s arrival coincided with a new era of far more forceful moderation. Reddit recently took the decision to not only ban links from Russian state media outlets, but all websites with a Russian (.ru) domain.”
in addition to his duties at Twitter, is an officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade – a notorious unit dedicated to online warfare and psychological operations. Like Facebook, Twitter has partnered with some highly questionable state-linked organizations, giving them considerable influence over its content moderation.
Meanwhile, Google’s current global head of Developer Product Policy, Ben Renda, was formerly a strategic planner and information management officer for NATO, before working for both U.S. Cyber Command and the Department of Defense.
“Big Tech a big weapon
The U.S. government, it appears, refuses to allow any competition to its hegemony over the digital realm. Huawei has effectively been banned throughout much of the West, with the United States refusing to allow the Chinese giant to control the new network of 5G communications. U.S. attempts to convince other nations to block Huawei have elicited significant pushback in the Global South. “If you are ahead, I will ban you, I will send warships to your country…That is not competition, that is threatening people,” said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, commenting on U.S. actions. Decades earlier, the U.S. government effectively destroyed the Japanese semiconductor industry, forcing Japan to sign a one-sided trade deal while imposing a 100% tariff on Japanese electronics – a power play that led to a decades-long recession from which the island nation has never recovered.
” “The United States will need to rely on the power of its technology sector to ensure [that] the narrative of events” globally is shaped by the U.S. and “not by foreign adversaries,” they explain, concluding that Google, Facebook, Twitter are “increasingly integral to U.S. diplomatic and national security efforts.” In other words, they see big-tech as a key weapon of the U.S. empire.”