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TikTok's Chinese ownership raises national security concerns for US lawmakers
Tiktok CEO questioned in Congress; Canadian MP steps down over interference claims; Experts warn of hyper-realistic fake images on social media
The United States Congress held a hearing on Tuesday regarding the Chinese-owned social media app, TikTok. CEO Shou Zi Chew was questioned on national security concerns, allegations of harmful content and data protection. Members of Congress expressed bipartisan concern over the app's potential Chinese influence, the power it holds over American children, and its connection to the Chinese Communist Party. Chew repeatedly denied the app shares data or has connections with the Chinese Communist Party and argued that the platform was doing everything to ensure safety for its 150 million American users. However, the hearing raised fresh momentum for lawmakers' calls to ban TikTok nationwide. Concerns were also raised regarding the difficulty of detecting malicious software code and China's vast intelligence effort.
On our radar
Han Dong, a Canadian Member of Parliament, has resigned from the governing Liberal Party and will sit as an independent after being accused of lobbying a Chinese diplomat to delay the release of two Canadians imprisoned in Beijing. The allegations were made in an unconfirmed report by Canadian media outlet Global News citing anonymous national security sources. Mr Dong has denied the allegations and stated that the reports were false. The imprisoned Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, were eventually released on September 24, 2021. The allegations against Mr Dong come amid wider accusations that China attempted to interfere in Canadian elections. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has faced political pressure to launch a public inquiry and recently appointed an independent special rapporteur to look into the reports. The Chinese consulate in Toronto has denied the claims of interference, and some Chinese-Canadian politicians have raised concerns about the anonymous allegations in news reports, saying they may be racially motivate
ASSOCIATED PRESS — Trump arrested? Putin jailed? Fake AI images spread online
Artificial intelligence (AI) image generators like Midjourney and DALL-E are creating sophisticated, realistic images with detailed backgrounds on a mass scale, based on simple text prompts from users. Images of former US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, such as those showing Trump being arrested by riot-gear-clad police officers or Putin behind bars, have inundated social media platforms in recent days. While the ability to manipulate photos and create fake images isn't new, AI image generator tools are becoming increasingly accessible and sophisticated. Misinformation experts warn that these fake images are harbingers of a new reality: waves of fake photos and videos that flood social media after major news events and further muddy fact and fiction at crucial times for society. The best way to combat visual misinformation is better public awareness and education, as synthetic images become increasingly difficult to discern from the real thing.
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