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How Much Of A Threat Is TikTok, Really?

TikTok’s influence is expanding well beyond the social sphere. The app is increasingly being used for the types of internet searches one would normally rely on a web search engine for. The video-based social app might not seem like the best place to find answers to your burning questions, but many users have made it their tool of choice for finding bars and restaurants to visit, movies to watch, or clothes to wear. It’s a trend that has companies like Google more than a little concerned. The popularity of the app has also raised the hackles of US lawmakers, who have cited security concerns about the app and have even introduced legislation calling for a wholesale national TikTok ban.

This week on Gadget Lab, WIRED’s Lily Hay Newman joins us to discuss why all the kids are using TikTok for search and dig into whether the app’s ownership by a Chinese firm really makes it a national security threat.

Show Notes

Read Lauren’s story about her week of using TikTok for search. Here’s Lily on TikTok’s security threats. Follow all of WIRED’s coverage of TikTok.


Lily recommends the essay collection “You Are Not Expected to Understand This”: How 26 Lines of Code Changed the World, edited by Torie Bosch. Lauren recommends the book I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy. Mike recommends the classic seasons of the show Doctor Who, which you can find on BritBox.

Lily Newman can be found on Twitter @lilyhnewman. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

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