I Don’t Know What ByteDance is Up To With Tik-Tok, But Something Curious Continues To Go On

by Shelt Garner

Ok, it’s completely bonkers to propose that CCP-avilated ByteDance might be able to read the minds of Americans via Tik-Tok. I get it. I sound like a crazy person. But how do you explain this: my teeth have been sore recently for some reason.

And, lo and behold, today I got pushed a video that had to deal with someone’s teeth hurting.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence. Given my age, etc, then the algorithm simply is guessing that someone in my demographic might have teeth issues.

Still curious, though.

Welcome, Bytedance

by Shelt Garner

Given that Bytedance, the owner of Tik-Tok, has gone so far as to track the location of Forbes reporters, I suppose it was inevitable someone from that company would check me out since I keep ranting about I suspect their app can read people’s minds.

So, today, sure enough, I saw someone from Bytedance in my Webstats.

I don’t really think that Tik-Tok can read our minds. I don’t. I swear. But repeatedly, again and again, I have been pushed very, very specific videos that seem to track with my internal monologue and I simply don’t have any ready answer for it.

Usually, it seems to happen after I think about something really hard in a concrete way. I like, I see an image in my mind for an intense moment or two. Then, usually within 24 hours, I get pushed something along those lines by Tik-Tok.

It’s eerie. It’s inexplicable.

I suppose it’s all just a coincidence. It has to be. Right? Right? Big Tech can’t read our minds — yet. I mean, if Big Tech had the ability to read consumers’ minds wouldn’t that be, by definition, one of the biggest advancements — and secrets — in modern history?

I know we’re working towards having some primitive ability to read people’s minds, I call it “digital telepathy,” but for the time being such stuff is the stuff of cranks like me with too much time on my hands.

I suppose AI might has something to do with what I’m noticing? Maybe? But for me, the point is, be it digital telepathy or AI, whatever it giving Tik-Tok the ability to figure out what I’m thinking in such a concrete manner fucking needs to be banned or regulated.

I don’t care which.

Anyway. No one listens to me.

So Very Strange

by Shelt Garner

A few days ago, I thought really hard about the time many moons ago when I slept overnight at a hostel. Well, would you believe that I got pushed a Tik-Tok just now about that VERY SAME THING — someone worried about sleeping at a hostel.

Because that was the memory I thought about — how unhappy I was as an Old sleeping at a hostel. And there it was, a video of a young woman looking very concerned about the risks associated with sleeping at a hostel.

I know — know — it’s not possible that Tik-Tok is actively rooting around in my mind.

But…it is very eerie. I didn’t tell anyone about this memory. I didn’t tweet or blog about it. Only *I* specifically knew that I was even aware of such a situation in the first place.

Tik-Tok Can Be A Real Sewer Of Disinformation

by Shelt Garner

I don’t know about you, but as an Old, I get pushed a lot of Tik-Toks that are a lot more serious than the usual hot chicks bounce around, dancing. Some of the Tik-Toks I get are just various forms of blatent disinformation.

It’s all very grating for various reasons because a lot of (younger) people don’t realize what they’re seeing is, essentially, a lie. And, wait, it gets worse — the Chinese government is deeply mixed up in Tik-Tok so they have a vested interest in pushing as much disinformation as possible to unsuspecting young Americans.

So, in a sense, I hope Tik-Tok does get banned. I’m really growing quite annoyed at how much conspicuous disinformation the service pushes me on a regular basis. What’s worse, I still struggle to understand the “spookier” elements of the service’s ability to push me things that definitely seem like it can read my mind — but it can’t read my mind, right, right? RIGHT?

Anyway. Whatever. No one ever listens to me. Maybe one day, but not at the moment and not for the foreseeable future.

Is Tik-Tok At It Again?

by Shelt Garner

I don’t know what to tell you, folks, but Tik-Tok is up to its old “digital telepathy” tricks again. The first instance is not so obvious, while the second is really, really spooky.

Ok. So, the first instance of Tik-Tok getting way, way too close to comfort, as if it’s rooting around in my mind is I got pushed a video of someone pretending to be concerned about turbulence during a flight. This is something I think about a lot — that if I ever make it big and get to become a smug “bi-costal” liberal that when I suddenly find myself flying all the time that I’m going to have a lot of angst over turbulence.

The second instance is really, really, really spooky.

For a long-term scenario I’ve been toying with, I’ve been thinking really hard about the capital of Australia. I thought it was Sydney until I realized today it is actually Canberra. Just a moment ago, I was pushed a video of someone noting this very thing.

That’s just wild.

But, correlation is not causation, so lulz?

Why Conspiracy Theories Are Dumb

by Shelt Garner

I saw recently where it’s actually KNOWN that Tik-Tok is tracking the location of specific, individual users of the service….and it was a lulz. And that’s the thing about the vast majority of conspiracies — we actually know about them. Or, put another way, typically, “vast conspiracies” inevitably get discovered and accepted and then we move on.

So, I suppose what’s really going on with crazy conspiracy theory people is they believe there are sooper secret conspiracies that would rock the world, change the world if they were discovered. This is kind of a sick sad world kind of thing to believe because there are literally only one or two conspiracies that I can believe would actually change anything if they were proven to be real.

One is — if we learned that a combination of the mob, the CIA and Castro murdered JFK, that would probably cause serious real-world implications even today. The other is, I don’t know, the US government is hiding space aliens at Area 51.

That’s all I got. If you can’t prove those two conspiracies, I just don’t have much hope for you. Though, I would add to the two above the vague notion that Big Tech has the ability to read our minds. If you could PROVE that Tik-Tok was reading my mind against my will, then, yeah, that type of “mind rape” might cause a war between China and the US.

But, in general, when it comes to conspiracies, either we already know about them and don’t care, they’re out of date and meaningless or whatever was going on at one point isn’t going on anymore and we’ll never, ever learn the truth.

Ok, You Have Me Figured Out, Tik-Tok…But How?

by Shelt Garner

I continue to be amazed by Tik-Tok’s ability to figure me out to a very, very specific degree. I’ve written about this phenomena repeatedly — even going so far as to suggest Tik-Tok can read my mind in some way — but let’s talk about the latest version of this, which I think might be explainable without any strange, kooky ideas.

Jane Birkin

A long time ago, I had brief, intense celebrity crush on fashion It Girl, Alexa Chung. Now, what’s so weird about this is for some time I’ve been pushed videos of Jane Birkin (who Ms. Chung looks up to a lot) as well as her daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg.

I find all of this kind of weird. I find it weird because I started getting pushed videos about Birkin and Gainsbourg pretty much out of the blue. But I will admit that once I was pushed the videos that I lingered on them and liked them, which could explain why I also got videos of Chung pushed my way as well. Maybe? Anything to explain what’s going on rather than to suggest digital telepathy. What about what I was looking and liking on Tik-Tok could possibly have narrowed down what the service knows about me down to my interest in Chung and, by extension, Birkin and Gainsbourg?

It’s all very strange. Spooky even.

I don’t think Tik-Tok can read our minds — even though it definitely seems like it at times, but….the mystery of algorithms remains very eerie.

What If I’m Right & Big Tech Can Read Our Minds?

by Shelt Garner

I don’t really believe Big Tech can read our minds. I just don’t have any cold, hard evidence I can point to and have someone who is “normal” believe me. The idea that the technology exists — but is somehow being hidden — for technology companies to peer into our minds is just too fantastical for anyone with a “normal” life to take seriously.

So, I’m just daydreaming about this. I like to run scenarios and so I’m just thinking out loud. I’ve done this before, I think, but I feel like doing it again just for fun and to get it out of my system.

The key thing would be who knows that this technology not only exists but is being used in a practical manner for commercial reasons? A subsequent question would be, of course, if Big Tech is monitoring our minds, then what can the NSA? The NSA is often times a few years more advanced in such technology because there is a practical intelligence use for it.

In fact, one reason why I have my doubts about Big Tech being able to read our minds is it would be such a huge, powerful secret. It just doesn’t seem like the type of thing that could be kept a secret. Of course, if you limit your concerns on this issue to just Tik-Tok being able to read your mind, then the possibility such a secret could be kept grows significantly.

What is interesting — an a little disappointing — to me is if Big Tech eased us into the idea that Digital Telepathy existed, then we could get cool shit like $1,200 “mindcaps” that would replace an array of existing media devices. We could, maybe, “watch” TV and movies using our own minds. We could send “mind mail” to each other. Record dreams. All sorts of interesting commercial applications — and abuses — come to mind. Strange Days and Dreamscape are two movies that come to mind that play with such technology and its practical, real world applications.

I suppose the fear — if such technology exists — is that people will freak out and want to storm Silicon Valley so they can burn it to the ground. The idea of “mind rape” being used in regards to Digital Telepathy definitely does enter your mind when thinking about such things.

Anyway, I have no proof. Just a mild unease. Whatever Tik-Tok is doing — if it’s doing anything — seems to be most potent when it comes to things associated with the body. When Tik-Tok pushes you a video that seems to make reference to things about your own fucking body that only you know….that’s enough to weird you out.

And it’s not like when Target started sending pregnancy related stuff to a house of a teenage girl who hadn’t told her folks yet. I’m limiting my concern to only those specific instances when Tik-Tok pushes me a video for something that is very similar to something I’ve thought about really hard and there is absolutely no one or no thing that knows about it besides me.

The issue for me is — either way, there needs to be some regulation. If Digital Telepathy exists, we need regulations and if it’s just an instance of alographtms being really, really good…we need regulations.

Is Big Tech Reading Consumers’ Minds Using Digital Telepathy?

by Shelt Garner

The short answer is, of course, no, of course not. This is a demonstrably silly idea and I am a fool — and maybe a bit of a kook — to even bring the subject up. And, generally, I just don’t believe in conspiracy theories. I’m of the opinion that the vast majority of actual conspiracies are well known and the public generally doesn’t care.

Ok. Having said that, let’s yet again ponder a scenario whereby Big Tech, and specifically Tik-Tok, is in some way able to not only monitor what’s rolling around in our minds but use that information to push content to us in an eerily specific way.

Up until a while ago, Facebook — now Meta — was, in fact, looking into how they could read people’s minds to the point that they even patented a way to do it. They have since scrapped this research and so, lulz, obviously they aren’t using any such technology to read people’s minds, right?

So that should be that. Big Tech isn’t reading our minds and if they were, we would obviously know about it because it would be such a huge milestone in technology. The ethical implications of reading people’s minds without their consent would be just too big for Big Tech to overcome and so why are we even talking about this?

One thing I will note is how beneficial it would be for, say, the NSA or CIA to be able to monitor the minds of diplomats and other major officials in foreign countries. And, in general, some of the most cutting edge technology used in a practical way is developed not by private industry, but by government agencies like DARPA — which came up with the Internet.

This brings us to Tik-Tok

Tik-Tok is a Chinese company and there is little or no separation between Chinese tech companies like Tik-Tok and the security agencies of the CCP. So, if you were of a conspiratorial bent, you could definitely find yourself pondering the possibility that Tik-Tok is using digital telepathy is not only read the minds of America’s youth, but use that information to push them ever-more addictive content to keep them using what is now one of the most popular social media platforms on earth.

This is the point where you laugh at me and say all of this is just crazy talk. And, honestly, whenever I find myself talking to a tech person I go out of my way to try to get them to dissuade me of my paranoia. I explain to them what’s happening and I ask them to explain to me why I’m wrong. The most common explanation they give me is it’s all a coincidence and Tik-Tok’s algorithms simply now me so well that it just seems like it can read my mind.

This is similar to how there is the horror story of a young woman being sent pregnancy related coupons in the mail because of what she was looking for on a big box retailer’s website. Ok, I get it that makes a lot of sense and explains most — but not all — of what I’m noticing.

As an aside, I’ve started to try to keep these suspicions to myself — especially at bars — because, well, people think I’m completely insane and don’t want to talk to me anymore when I causally broach the subject. Which, all things considered, is probably understandable.

The only reason I keep thinking about the bizarre conspiracy theory is the fact that some of the video’s that Tik-Tok pushes me aren’t nearly as general as what happened with the pregnant teen and the coupons. I still struggle to understand how Tik-Tok’s algorithms can be so good as to narrow down a very specific thing I thought about intensely in passing.

Usually these spooky events have something to do with my body, something I haven’t told anyone about. And sometimes, it’s something I just think about really hard for a moment or two out of the blue. It’s those specific type of incidents that give me pause for thought when I get pushed a video on Tik-Tok that is about that very specific thing.

But I have no proof and probably never will. And even if it was happening, it is the CCP we’re talking about, so it’s not like we’ll ever find out. Though if Big Tech in the United States was also reading our minds, then, I suppose the secret might pop out eventually.

Which leads you to wonder what the reaction would be. I’m of the opinion that after the shock wore off, there would either be a huge outcry where the population demanded some sort of regulation crackdown of Big Tech — or nothing would happen.

It would just be another thing that we all knew about, but didn’t care because, in general we got better products and services because of it. Though, of course, if it was proven that Tik-Tok — and by extension the CCP — was reading the minds of America’s youth….I suppose that might be considered something akin to an act of war?

Relations between the US and China would definitely suffer.

Anyway, this is all nuts. There’s no way Big Tech can read our minds. I’m just noticing really good algorithms.

Tik-Tok Did It Yet Again

by Shelt Garner

I don’t believe in conspiracies. In general, I believe the biggest conspiracies are actually pretty well known and people just don’t care. And, yet, there is the issue of Tik-Tok potentially reading our minds.

I wouldn’t keep talking about my suspicions if it wasn’t for the fact that Tik-Tok continues to push me very, very specific videos that directly connected to my internal monologue.

The latest instance of this is pretty surreal. I found myself recently thinking randomly about the darker side of rock legend Chuck Berry. Specifically, how he had a gross personal stash of homemade porn of women using the bathroom. I thought about this for a moment or two a few days ago. Then, would you believe just a few moments ago Tik-Tok pushed me a video about that very specific thing.

This keeps happening to the point that I’m struggling to figure out how it is that it could simply be “algorithms.” It. Happens. All. The. Time. And, yet, I have no proof and any time I bring up to anyone else they look at me — rightfully — like I’ve lost my mind. The idea that Tik-Tok, and by extension the Chinese government — has the ability to read the minds of America’s youth is enough to give one pause for thought.

And if Tik-Tok can read our minds, then maybe Big Tech can, in general, read our minds as well. Then the question is — can they aggregate what they read or is it simply a point-to-point technology where they can do it, but not really do anything with the information?

Anyway. Big Tech can’t read our minds. Right? Right?