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TikTok waited until Trump was out of office to make this creepy privacy change

Back in January of 2019, the Peterson Institute for International Economics sounded a warning about a seemingly innocuous social media app. TikTok, the think tank suggested, represents a potential national security concern for the US. “TikTok per se may never expand its reach beyond teenagers, but it is only a matter of time before a Chinese app with broader appeal hits the US and EU markets,” reads a commentary from the institute at the time, referencing the fact that TikTok was launched in China. “If widely adopted, such an app could become a Huawei-sized problem in terms of the access to the West potentially afforded to Chinese security services.” This was the pre-Covid posture the Trump administration quickly adopted, turning almost anything connected to China into a political punching bag. Not only did the previous administration rail against companies like Huawei and TikTok for being supposed potential arms of the Chinese state — but the administration also tried to tie them up in either legal or political machinations. Trump himself eventually penned a dubious executive order ostensibly banning TikTok and tried to broker a sale of the company’s US interests to untangle it from even the shadow of China. Trump eventually cleared out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue earlier this year, while TikTok is still plugging along.

This brings us to a creepy-sounding update to the company’s privacy policy that made headlines this week. One that’s eyebrow-raising enough that it’s a pretty good bet there’s no way the company would have tried this while TikTok was still one of Trump’s favorite, albeit fleeting, bêtes noires.

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Back in January of 2019, the Peterson Institute for International Economics sounded a warning about a seemingly innocuous social media app. TikTok, the think tank suggested, represents a potential national security concern for the US. “TikTok per se may never expand its reach beyond teenagers, but it is only a matter of time before a …TikTok
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