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Toronto Mayor John Tory shared a video of himself on the controversial app TikTok trying to explain to "young people" the current public health guidelines.
The video depicts Tory pointing upwards as text bubbles above his head list pandemic-related public health guidelines such as washing hands, wearing a mask, and staying home if you're sick. The video includes the song "Ride It" by DJ Regard.
However, the video quickly received online ridicule as users pointed out Tory's low energy and awkwardness in the video.
Tory acknowledged his own awkwardness in the video in an interview with CP24, but nevertheless justified his video by saying that Toronto has “a really urgent priority on our hands reaching people who are a bit younger, who use different platforms in different ways.”
Other users expressed concern that Tory was using TikTok at all, given the app's questionable ethics and ties to the Chinese government, potentially leaving the mayor's data vulnerable.
TikTok has faced controversy over the years over the app's perceived lack of ethics. The company which owns TikTok, ByteDance, was fined $5.7 million by the US Federal Trade Commission in 2019 for illegally collecting data of minors, and as of 2020 is being investigated by the Dutch Data Protection Authority over similar concerns. The app again faces a potential FTC investigation over it reportedly collecting the data of Android users against the policies of Google.
The app has also been criticized for its relationship with the Chinese Communist Party. The app has a history of censoring content related to the Hong Kong protests and the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs in northwestern China. The Trump administration has been attempting to ban the app in the United States, along with other Chinese apps such as WeChat.
Tory is not the only high profile Canadian politician to make use of TikTok. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has made use of the app to promote himself, although his high energy seems to receive a much more positive response online. Nevertheless, his lack of awkwardness does not alleviate concerns over potential data theft against a major party leader.
When Global News inquired on the topic of a TikTok ban, a spokesperson from Public Safety Canada avoided answering whether Canada was considering a similar ban on TikTok and other Chinese apps which could potentially endanger the privacy of Canadians.