Pinoys weigh in on TikTok’s future amid privacy concerns, Chinese suspicions

November 3, 2023 - 3:16 PM
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A smartphone with a displayed TikTok logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken February 23, 2023. (Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo)

Should TikTok be banned in the Philippines?

Some Filipinos weighed in on the previous government’s proposal to ban the video-sharing service in the country, citing its possible use for China’s espionage activities.

National Security Adviser Secretary Eduardo Año expressed this in a statement on Saturday, October 28.

Año noted that the app itself originated from China.

“‘Yang mga apps na ‘yan, galing kasi sa China ‘yang mga apps na ‘yan, malaki ang posibilidad na nakukuha nila ‘yung mga data pati mga private details ng mga nagsu-subscribe dyan,” he was quoted in a report as saying.

Año, however, pointed out that the National Security Council (NSC) is still investigating TikTok over possible data leaks; therefore, no plans to ban it have been discussed.

“Doon na lang muna tayo sa mga pamahalaan, opisina na involved sa security matters. At kung mayroon tayong makitang ibang development saka tayo magsasagawa ng adjustment,” he said.

This statement came in light of the recent incidents of data breaches of government agencies. These include PhilHealth, the Philippine Statistics Authority, and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

So far, the state insurer suffered the largest hacking of servers, covering 13 million data. These include the personal information of PhilHealth members and employees.

READ: Philippine email users’ security breached an average three times since 2004, global stat says 

Different perspectives online

Several Filipinos expressed their support for barring the use and download of TikTok, expressing their view of of the app as irksome and filled with shallow content.

“Agree na agree ako please i-ban na agad-agad para mawala na ang perwisyo na ‘to,” a Redditor said.

“If this happens, good f*ck*ng riddance. T*ngin*ng TikTok yan eh, brainrot lang aabutin ng tao dyan,” another Redditor said.

Some Filipinos defended the platform. They pointed out TikTok’s use for education and livelihood.

Mona Magno-Veluz, also known as Mighty Magulang on TikTok, brought up the hashtag #LearnItOnTikTok, the app’s official hashtag for educational content, in her reaction to this news.

READ: #LearnOnTikTok: How Filipinos can use short-form video app as educational tool

#LearnItOnTiktok — explore it,” Veluz said.

She also pointed out the public’s data are also at risk in government agencies with poor security infrastructure.

“Our data is more at risk with government agencies and its poor security. We should compare the incidence of data breaches between Tiktok-Lazada vs Philhealth-COMELEC-PSA over the last 5 years,” Veluz said.

Teachers on TikTok also started the genre “TeachTok” on the platform to help each other adapt to virtual or hybrid classrooms, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ:

How ‘TeachTok’ is helping teachers connect with their students on TikTok (philstar.com)

An X user named Austin Ong, meanwhile, also pointed out that there are many micro-entrepreneurs on TikTok.

“Government also needs to provide alternative livelihoods to the tens of thousands of Filipinos who are earning a living as micro-entrepreneurs, promoters, sellers on one of the most popular social apps in the Philippines,” the user said.

In 2022, TikTok launched its own online marketplace called the TikTok Shop, a new avenue for local businesses to reach out to their customers.

To attract customers to the shop, merchants use witty hashtags in advertising their products and join shopping festivals with other e-commerce apps.

RELATED: Not just entertainment: TikTok launches online marketplace for Pinoy sellers | ‘#TikTokBudol’: How merchants can maximize the mobile app to sell products 

Other Filipinos also pointed out that TikTok runs on the algorithm, thus the content people see depends on the videos they engage with.

“I love TikTok. I guess I built my algorithm well so hindi ko nakikita yung mga problematic content. I even developed some new skills because of it and it’s my go-to source of entertainment,” a Filipino on Reddit said.

“People here love to flame TikTok because of cringe dances, thirst traps, and disinformation, but it really depends on your algorithm,” another Redditor said.