(Yes, Donald Trump is a lying, grifting, misogynistic bigot who tried to destroy the republic. We all know that, even the craven cowards and faithful fascists who deny it.)

          In early July, TikTok sought action from a federal judge to block Montana’s ban of its video sharing app. The Chinese-based company and five content creators had previously sued the state over the ban. They want to put it on hold until the case is decided.

          Amy Beth Hanson of the Associated Press reported:

          “Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen had the bill drafted over concerns — shared by the FBI and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken — that the app, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, could be used to allow the Chinese government to access information on U.S. citizens or push pro-Beijing misinformation that could influence the public. TikTok has said none of this has ever happened.”

          I’m no TikToker, nor do I have a presence on Facebook, Instagram or the platform formerly known as Twitter. Zoom? Well, Zoomer was the name of a pal’s cat.

          TikTok has evidently replaced other social media as the favorite toy for young people.

          While the company argues for its independence, Chinese law, “compels companies to cooperate with the country’s governments for state intelligence work,” Harrison wrote.

          Factor in the revelation of July 21 that Chinese hackers had breached email security at our Beijing embassy, and you can see why many have concerns about Tik Tok.

          Harrison’s count shows more than half of the states and the federal government have already banned Tik Tok from governmental computers.

          Some argue that a Tik Tok ban curtails free speech. Others see the bans as a ploy by right-wingers – who don’t mind Russia disinformation services – to deprive young voters of one their main sources of information.

          In 1949, George Orwell’s 1984 introduced the world to the idea that “Big Brother is watching you.” His novel was set in a totalitarian society where the government controlled every aspect of everybody’s life. (Sort of like the current Republican agenda.)

          But, who’s watching now? Or listening?

          There is a four-county swath of western Kansas that takes its cues from Colorado. Two vehicles back, driving south to north through these counties, my car’s clock automatically switched from Central to Mountain time – and then back.

          Not big government, big business tracking me.

          Recently, The Observer added a new platform to attract new readers – Substack. Check it out. During the set-up phase, Editor Arnold Hamilton found that he was not allowed to paste my photo onto my brief bio. I had to do it.

          I dawdled a while, thinking this would be a complicated hassle pushing the limits of my limited technology. Finally, I opened my account and clicked on the empty photo spot.

          At that point, my mugshot file (one of dozens of photo files) popped into view. I dragged my happy face into the spot, mission accomplished.

          Really easy. But, the deliberate, intelligent intrusion into my computer was equally disturbing. How’d they do that? What else are they up to?

          My sister and I talk old movies. One discussion concerned the desire of most young actresses to portray Audrey Hepburn. The next day, my YouTube menu included Audrey singing “Moon River” and the full-length movie “Sabrina.”

          And that situation happens enough to keep me suspicious.

          Not big government, big business.

          Then, at the end of July, I was telling her about a Rock Hudson office skit on The Carol Burnett Show. Before the end of our call, she took a look at Instagram and found a picture of Carol and Tim Conway, Carol’s office boss.

          That same conversation revealed that she had watched The Glass Bottom Boat on YouTube. My YouTube menu the next day (right at the top) included the automat scene from A Touch of Mink, another Doris Day movie.

          Later that morning, I got a rundown on the Barbie movie from a pal, who singled out America Ferrara and Ryan Gosling for their acting. Within four hours, I had the YouTube option of watching a very young Gosling at a dance recital.

          (And I’ll ignore the rest of the examples between now and sending this to press.)

          Yes, too, most web sites will assure you – while asking you to accept their cookies (or sometimes face expulsion) — “We value your privacy.” They really do. They put a price on it to sell to advertisers.

          A guy I have no reason to doubt told me that, as he walked by a store’s tire department, his phone received a message about that store’s latest tire sales.

          Of course, many Internet options are built on algorithms. Assessing our choices and trying to redirect us somewhere similar. Sometimes, you get lucky. Others?

          Because I read Michael Sean Winters at the National Catholic Reporter and check out the live music scene nightly, YouTube sometimes clogs up my menu with live church services. (That black cat keeps crossing my trail.)

          Raptors rely on keen eyesight. Sharks have a tremendous sense of smell. Corporate America tracks us with our own cookie crumbs.

                   (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party: <scdpok.us> or <facebook.com/SCDPOK/>.)

Tik Tok threat mighty familiar

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