In an interview for the show “American Optimist,” moderated on YouTube by Joe Lonsdale, the “That ’70s Show” star, Ashton Kutcher, spoke about the need to protect children’s privacy on social media, and stated that he sees “a massive regulatory battle in the horizon” regarding TikTok.
The Hollywood actor said that China could leverage social media, especially TikTok, to “create a naval problem” in the South China Sea and spread “anti-American propaganda” for geopolitical gain. Among them, making any aggression that the United States has against China “extremely unpopular.”
“If I’m China and I want to create a problem in that area of the world, specifically a Naval problem in the South China Sea, I would probably want to utilize TikTok in order to influence the minds of Americans in order to make any kind of war from the United States extremely unpopular.”
He then continued: “I think that most people believe that there is media manipulation happening and misinformation campaigns happening, just not through their sources,” Kutcher said. “I think that’s wrong and I think we’re about to face a reckoning in that particular domain and it’s going to probably change what social media looks like in the future.”
TikTok, the social media platform, is owned by a technology giant based out of Beijing: ByteDance. The platform, whose user base is mostly GenZ, is one of the fastest growing social networks at the moment. It already has billions of users worldwide and has been downloaded some 200 million times in the United States alone.
Ashton Kutcher explains how China can use social media control to spread propaganda across the globe and defeat the US at sea pic.twitter.com/a5P2M5Rgvm
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Kutcher said that he is expressing his concern because he is a “fervent American,” and that the manipulation by social media is becoming “extremely dangerous” and not just for individual people, but for the whole country.
“If the trend line continues on the path that it’s on today, my kids will not be on social media,” he said. If things change, he will make sure to educate them very well so that they are aware of how “people can manipulate the way you think” through these platforms.