What to Do About TikTok

  

What to Do About TikTok

This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. You can sign up here to receive it weekdays.

Don’t ban TikTok. Restrain it. And then apply those same restraints to the American internet powers, too.

That’s what Kevin Roose, a New York Times technology columnist, wrote in his latest column about TikTok, the app owned by an internet giant based in Beijing. Some U.S. officials worry that the app could let China’s government spy on Americans or spread propaganda.

I talked with Kevin about his proposed fix to make TikTok — and American internet companies, too — more open and less data-hogging, and how to sniff out the valid concerns about the video app from the less legitimate ones.

Shira: Let’s start with TikTok. What are the reasonable concerns about it?

Kevin: Because TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance, it could be compelled to give the data it collects on people watching videos to the Chinese government and abide by its censorship laws.


Brian X. Chen, a personal technology writer for The Times, wants us all to consider an alternative to cloud computing services like iCloud and Dropbox.

Let me tell you why it’s worth considering the odd sounding N.A.S.

It stands for network-attached storage — awful jargon for what is essentially a mini computer data center in your home. Setting one up isn’t easy, but it gives us a more private, potentially less expensive way to save and access our digital files, photos and videos from anywhere.

A N.A.S. is a device containing one or more hard drives that you plug into your home internet service. It creates something like a personal cloud service — similar to Google Drive or Dropbox, but you don’t have to pay a subscription fee to those companies. And because all the data is stored on your own equipment, no company can see the information you’ve saved there.

I have a Synology N.A.S. with a pair of one-terabyte hard drives that I use instead of Apple’s iCloud to back up the data on my Mac. When my smartphone and tablets begin running out of storage space, I move large video files and photos to the N.A.S. and delete the files from my devices.

If I’ve lost you by now, I get it. N.A.S. servers are designed for people with above-average levels of tech proficiency. And they’re not cheap to set up. A decent N.A.S. server, including hard drives, will cost upward of $500.

But it’s worth considering if you have the interest and time to study up. Read Techradar’s guide on picking a N.A.S. Then check out tutorials from Synology on using a N.A.S. to back up your Windows or Mac computer. You can also research other things you might want to do with a personal cloud, like streaming movies or creating a virtual private network to protect your information when using a hotel’s insecure Wi-Fi connection, for example.

Setting up a N.A.S. can be difficult and frustrating, but the potential payoff is huge.


This 20-year-old college student made a stunning TikTok video that shows him transforming into superheros using special effects he created himself. And he’s getting attention for it from Hollywood.


We want to hear from you. Tell us what you think of this newsletter and what else you’d like us to explore. You can reach us at ontech@nytimes.com.

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