TikTok, Australia tests its safety against misinformation

A high-level security audit, being presented to Australian Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil, looked into privacy risks and concerns around TikTok and other Chinese social media giants, considering how to prevent political censorship and disinformation. The seven-week investigation precedes the expected passage in the United States of rules that will give the Biden administration the legal authority to ban entities including TikTok, which is owned by the ByteDance company of based in China. Security agencies including the Australian Signals Directorate and the Australian Cyber ​​Security Centre, which are linked to the Department of Defence, assisted in the audit. Government sources not authorized to speak in public reveal that the audit is also looking into the manipulation of content in the platforms, including the censorship of posts concerning Tibet and Xinjiang, and the promotion of pro-Beijing positions. According to Australian Strategic Policy Institute analyst Fergus Ryan, quoted by the newspaper, it is established that TikTok has tried in the past to influence the political debate in Australia. “It’s something they may still try to do in ways that would be very difficult to pinpoint… When it comes to elections, that kind of micro-targeting of political messages can fully reach and influence certain electorates,” he said. Australia’s policy is likely to follow the US response. The Biden administration last week backed a bipartisan bill that would allow the president to mandate the sale of foreign-owned technology companies if they pose a threat to national security.