Sky News Australia has ceased using TikTok, where it had racked up some 65,000 followers and “many millions” of views, owing to far-reaching personal-data and national-security concerns about the “spy network masquerading as a social media platform.”
The News Corp Australia subsidiary just recently announced and explained its decision to exit TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-headquartered ByteDance and was earlier in April prohibited on government devices in the island nation. In outlawing the highly controversial platform on all official phones and computers, Australia joined a list of countries including the US, the UK, Canada, and France.
And while Sky News Australia isn’t a state-affiliated entity, the news provider has made clear its belief that “media organisations around the world must reassess their relationship with” TikTok, which is still grappling with the possibility of an outright ban in the US and elsewhere.
“The risks are far too great for any serious news publisher to ignore and the gains are negligible at best,” Sky wrote of the decision to bail on TikTok, before reiterating the app’s aforesaid government-wide ban in Australia and the implications of continuing to use the service despite the underlying threat to national security.
“If the platform is such high a risk of espionage that corporate phones must be purged, then morally, how can newsrooms justify emboldening that ecosystem with content and drawing more viewers to the service?” asked 27-year-old Sky. “In practical terms, little is to be gained from large viewership figures TikTok provides news organisations beyond the gloating of media executives who want shareholders and proprietors to conflate a few million views with the notion of success.”
From there, Sky News Australia touched upon the prevalence of valueless (and, in different cases, allegedly predatory) content on TikTok, taking the opportunity to further highlight the platform’s alleged role as a data-harvesting tool of the Chinese government as well as this same government’s affinity for arbitrarily imprisoning journalists.
“Sky News Australia is not forcing staff to delete the app from personal devices and we believe each individual should be free to weigh the risks for themselves,” concluded the outlet. “But for media organisations, we urge you to consider this dilemma and stop trading security and integrity for a few worthless views.”
Moving forward, it’ll be worth closely following the fate of TikTok, through which multiple songs and artists have found new audiences and achieved mainstream commercial success. In the States, the White House is reportedly considering issuing a forced-sale order. And Congress has introduced several bills (some of which, like the RESTRICT Act, are overly broad and threaten First Amendment rights, per critics) that lawmakers say would ban TikTok altogether.