Microsoft CEO Politely Confirms Trump TikTok Fracas Was Dumb, Performative, Nonsense

from the non-helping department

Last year we found that the calls to ban TikTok didn’t make a lot of sense. For one, a deluge of researchers has shown that TikTok does the same things as many other overseas and domestic adtech-related services that we apparently intend … to do absolutely nothing.

Second, the majority of the noisy bead clutcher on the app (Josh Hawley etc) didn’t care about things like consumer privacy or internet security, emphasizing that the year-long TikTok freak was more about performative politics than politics. The Wireless Industry SS7 Mistake? US Cellular Location Data Scandals? The rampant lack of data protection or security standards in the Internet of Things? The need for election security funding?

Most of the people who spent the last year hyperventilating on TikTok didn’t even look at these other topics. Either you actually care about consumer privacy and internet safety or you don’t, and a large chunk of those who hyperventilate on TikTok have been completely absent from the broader discussion. In fact, many of them have done everything in their power to establish even modest privacy policies for the Internet age, and have made every effort to improve election security and fund it appropriately. This, in turn, is because for many it is more about politics than serious, adult technology politics.

After Trump Inc. proposed banning TikTok, you’ll remember that the government came up with another stupid idea. Basically, they proposed selling TikTok, owned by ByteDance, to Trump allies at Oracle and Walmart. It was just glorified nepotism, although for some reason many press and political circles seriously and sensibly analyzed the move, as if it were something else. It wasn’t, and it fell apart quickly like the stupid house of cards that it was.

At some point, Microsoft was also tossed around as a potential candidate for TikTok. And in conversations with Kara Swisher this week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella confirmed that all of TikTok tap dancing over the past year was just as stupid as we assumed. He’s diplomatic, but Nadella notes that Trump’s public conduct about TikTok was not supported by anything:

“President Trump, I think, had a certain point of view about what he was trying to achieve there and then just dropped out,” said Nadella. “I mean, it was interesting. There was a time when I felt like the [U.S. government] had certain requirements and then they just disappeared. ”

Of course, this “special point of view” was a performative political populism that exploited racism and insincere “privacy concerns” to try to bring a popular foreign company under US control in an apparently cronyistic manner. The press and some politicians have spent a lot of time disguising it as something more grandiose, but it was.

Of course, if you’re really concerned about US privacy and security, there is a lot that can be done by policymakers. Support the passage of real, simple, and clearly worded US data protection law for the Internet age to account for malicious actors. Support the actual funding and staffing of U.S. data protection agencies who are intentionally handcuffed. Put your support behind real electoral security reform (not to be confused with voter suppression). Work to promote transparency in security research. Back some standards for the Internet of Things. Start thinking about meaningful reform of the largely unaccountable adtech sector in general.

Hyperventilating specifically on Tiktok and Tiktok just because it (pant) belongs to the Chinese and is (pant) successful was an easy way to politically score points with nationalists and Trump’s pals at Oracle, but it didn’t solve anything at all. It was stupid, performative nonsense that should have been described as dumb, performative nonsense from the start. Instead, a sizable segment of reporters and nutcases treated it like serious politics.

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things vying for everyone’s attention these days, we appreciate your giving us your time. We work hard every day to bring quality content to our community.

Techdirt is one of the few truly independent media companies left. We don’t have a huge company behind us and we rely heavily on our community to support us at a time when advertisers are increasingly disinterested in sponsoring small, independent websites – especially a website like ours that isn’t ready in theirs Reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying / intrusive advertisements, we’ve always kept Techdirt open and available to everyone. But in order to continue to do this, we need your support. We offer our readers a variety of ways to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions to cool merchandise – and every little bit helps. Thanks very much.

–The Techdirt team

Filed under: China, Donald Trump, Satya Nadella
Companies: Microsoft, Tiktok

Comments are closed.