Waste no time, delete your TikTok
Most people know that social media platforms collect their personal information. Location, ordering patterns, browsing history and more are passed into Google, Meta, Amazon, Twitter and others' analytics. The newest and potentially scariest of these is TikTok.
The platform has over 1 billion users with most using daily, some up to 5% of their time online, but I suspect in some cases it is a lot higher. It beats Instagram and Facebook as the most addictive app to date. The app sends back your current location at least every hour. It monitors your keystrokes with full access to your clipboard. This means anything you type or copy, including passwords, are available to TikTok.
- Their secret is to not let users choose what they want to see, but rather algorithms are used to control content being shown. This is done to leverage off any emotional content selected and potentially change public opinion, what is considered normal, emotional manipulation, and some have suggested even violent protests. As an example the #blacklivesmatter hashtag on TikTok generated over 4.9 billion views. The Chinese Communist Party is synonymous with TikTok, an excellent propaganda platform, and the CCP also collects contacts, files and apps. The app could for example use its bots to push a particular idea to all of its users.
- When in office then President Trump gave the owners 45 days to spin off a US only version or be banned, but since the owners Bytedance spent millions to stop this Biden signed an executive order that reversed the spin off. Other countries seem to have allowed the product without question inside their borders. TikTok delivers different content in China than say the US or the rest of the world. The Chinese get to see science and Chinese achievements. Others get pet videos and unfortunate mishaps along with political content. Delete TikTok if you have it installed. Me, I have never and will never install this particular app.
- Last time, I covered some of the earlier relational databases and how some of the more recent ones like PostgreSQL are open source. Open source has been around for over 20 years. There are some who think of it as romantic and free with hundreds of people contributing their time for all. Some modern open source is about making money by adding value. Others redefine the term to protect themselves, so a more pseudo-open source. The concept is to allow someone to move away from one vendor or supplier to another or to simply do it all on their own. All to avoid vendor lock in.
- MongoDB for example is a popular NoSQL database that offers a Server-Side Public License (SSPL) v1.0 requiring that any enhancements made to MongoDB be released to the community. This SSPL does not meet all criteria for "official" open source software, set by the Open Source Initiative (OSI). The MongoDB people argue that this is done to protect themselves from the big cloud providers so that they don't simply copy their code and use it all for themselves.
- Compared to an RDBMS, the NoSQL approach differs in a number of ways. It is document rather than table based. You can use JSON as your query language in addition to some SQL. It is more field based using a key-value pair rather than the traditional row and column structure. It uses aggregation and generally doesn't support foreign keys. Support for joins is there but is clumsy. Data locking is also limited. It focuses on Consistency, Availability and Partition tolerance. There are those who will tell you MongoDB can do everything. Possibly, but there are use cases where RDBMS works far better, eg rapidly changing data that links tables. Each has its own advantages and weaknesses that the other does better so don't just buy the hype for either of them and do your own use case analysis before diving in.
- Finally this week, reliability of devices. In addition to my new Samsung S22 Ultra I also have an A73 5G that is about four months old. It recently stopped charging. The repair store initially diagnosed the issue as the charging board, but when that fix didn't work, decided it was the charging IC on the motherboard. I'm still waiting to find out that approach works but the total repair cost is now more than half the cost of the phone. Why didn't I put in a warranty claim you ask? The phone was purchased in one country and the repair needs to occur in another. Samsung in its infinite wisdom doesn't support that, so the only option is the more expensive route. I'm not sure if others have had this kind of issue with their A73 5G but I do not expect this to occur so soon after purchase and will now be rethinking my choice of phone supplier.
James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.