TikTok’s fame is ticking away, while Hot or Not is in its early hours.
The inevitable downfall of TikTok is rapidly gathering pace. The popular short-form video sharing app, which has become a cultural sensation worldwide, is now under insurmountable pressure from lawmakers in the United States.
A bipartisan group of 12 senators, buoyed by a staunch endorsement from the White House, recently introduced the RESTRICT Act, which grants the federal government the authority to limit or even prohibit the use of technologies originating from China and other countries categorized as US adversaries. This has put the future of TikTok in peril. Its ultimate demise in North America is looking increasingly probable.
TikTok’s fifteen seconds of fame are ticking away.
An International Affair
Prior to the emergence of RESTRICT, the tenuous relationship between Washington and Beijing had resulted in sweeping TikTok embargos across a majority of states. Meanwhile, the US federal government and military have followed suit and imposed full bans on the application, while several public and state-funded universities have prohibited the use of TikTok on their networks.
The banning of TikTok has turned into an international affair. A number of countries — including Belgium, Denmark, New Zealand, the UK, Australia, Canada, and Taiwan — have enacted measures to throttle the use of TikTok over perceived threats to their national security. The primary concern is that the Chinese government could order TikTok’s parent company, Beijing-based. ByteDance, to hand over user data collected by TikTok. It is believed such access could have a detrimental impact on Western security interests.
Overreaching and Undefined Regulation Appears Inevitable
What began as whispering among lawmakers at the federal level regarding an outright ban on TikTok has now escalated into a full-fledged national campaign with the RESTRICT Act. The bill, which aims to curtail information and communications technologies (ICT) from foreign adversaries, provides the White House and Commerce Department with the unprecedented (and largely unchallenged) authority to restrict ICT products and companies.
The world of social media is on the brink of a seismic shift, and TikTok is poised to be the first casualty.
Congress asserts that the RESTRICT Act will bolster the administration’s capacity to tackle both specific and systemic risks posed by the collection and use of personal data by “countries of concern” in sensitive technology sectors. However, opponents of the bill are expressing outrage over the broad and far-reaching powers it bestows. They are (correctly) warning that entrusting Congress with such authority is a risky proposition.
The act has come under fire for its ridiculously broad verbiage, which critics argue paves the way for the precipitous banning of software, applications, and communication services with ties to unfriendly foreign nations. This heavy-handed legislation will ultimately result in unintended consequences and infringe on free speech and digital commerce far beyond TikTok.
The broad language of RESTRICT could potentially classify VPN usage as a criminal offense, thereby jeopardizing the personal privacy and security of vulnerable parties, such as journalists and activists, who commonly rely on VPNs to encrypt (and protect) their online activity.
Additionally, the bill’s language ambiguously references desktop and mobile applications, as well as “gaming applications,” “payment applications,” and “web-based applications”, announcing that software with over one million users will be considered prime targets.
The brutal truth is this: The future of the internet in the USA is at stake.
The RESTRICT Act will significantly expand the Executive Branch’s power to control which apps and technologies Americans can access while limiting their ability to challenge these prohibitions in court. Moreover, it would establish civil and criminal consequences for non-compliance.
Do we want to give Trump, Biden, or any other US Head of State with a D or R after their name the power to take “appropriate” actions (restricting or banning) against a particular application in the name of national security or public safety — with little to no accountability? (Ironically, forbidding ICT software and services with connections to foreign countries does not necessarily help protect the privacy of American citizens, as hostile countries will handily resort to purchasing this information from private data brokers.)
The implications of the RESTRICT Act on free speech underscore the importance of decentralized social media. Unlike their centralized peers, decentralized platforms are not owned by a single individual or corporation, making them less vulnerable to government intervention and censorship. Applications built on blockchains provide a more transparent and resilient option for social media users. While the world’s governments can technically restrict access to decentralized applications (dApps), if those dApps are running on a fully decentralized blockchain, they are largely immune from being forcefully taken offline or permanently shut down.
Hot or Not Blazes a New Trail
Amidst the looming ban of TikTok, Hot or Not — smartly built on the ICP blockchain — has emerged as a top contender to fill the short-form content sharing void. Thanks to US federal lawmakers, not only does TikTok run the risk of being disrupted, it now stands a chance of being wholly replaced by Hot or Not.
Hot or Not was founded by a trio of seasoned entrepreneurs with a mission to revolutionize the social media landscape by providing ways for content viewers, who make up the vast majority of the world’s 4.65 billion social media users, to monetize their engagement.
Their inspiration? Countless hours each day spent scrolling through social media content. After recognizing that content consumers were the primary factor driving revenue in traditional social media models, they visualized a framework where these consumers could receive recognition and rewards for their active contributions.
In response, they engineered Hot or Not to foster a user-centric and equitable ecosystem, allowing both creators and viewers to enjoy perks that go far beyond the business model of TikTok, while simultaneously addressing the privacy and censorship concerns that have long plagued the major. players in the Web2 social media sector.
As a Web3 platform, Hot or Not allows creators to monetize their videos; however, the platform’s true innovation lies in incentivizing users to speculate on video content and rewarding them when their predictions prove correct. Users put their forecasting abilities to the test by selecting whether or not a video is “Hot” (the video will trend) or “Not” (it will fail to trend). Every hour, Hot or Not announces the results, and the winners are rewarded with the platform’s native COYN token.
To increase ease of adoption, Hot or Not has implemented a user experience/UI that closely resembles that of TikTok. This is particularly beneficial for onboarding users from the traditional Web2 sphere who may not be familiar with decentralized applications. Interestingly, users do not have to log in to view short videos on the platform. Logging in is only required for users who want to directly engage and interact by liking content, uploading videos, or voting on whether a video is “Hot” or “Not.” Allowing new users to explore Hot or Not at their own pace greatly reduces barriers to entry.
Leading an Asymmetrical Charge
ByteDance remains adamant that the US government-led campaign against TikTok is rooted in geopolitics and insists that their app poses no significant threats. But soon, their opinion won’t matter — this is a Web2 battleground; its rules of engagement are irrelevant to projects building on blockchains.
By choosing to develop their TikTok killer on the Internet Computer Protocol, the brains behind Hot or Not are leading an asymmetrical charge, where the tactics of Web2 are no match for the power of decentralization.
Hot or Not portends a future where social media is not only fun and engaging, but also provides users with opportunities to earn financial rewards for creating, engaging with, and sharing content with their friends and family.
We can’t wait to see what’s next for Hot or Not as it continues to disrupt the social media status quo and redefine what is hot…or not.
About the Internet Computer Protocol
The Internet Computers, developed by the DFINITY Foundation, is the world’s first truly decentralized and infinitely scalable public blockchain. Operating at web speed, the Internet Computer (ICP) blockchain runs end-to-end on a sovereign network of dedicated machines, hosted by independent node providers around the globe, making ICP the only blockchain that does not rely on centralized cloud nodes. The Internet Computer blockchain is governed by the Network Nervous System, a protocol-integrated DAO where token holders have the power to vote on the future of the network.
Hundreds of dApps now host Web2-style applications (websites, mobile apps, etc.) entirely on chain at web speed, as ICP increasingly becomes a decentralized alternative to the current public internet. Presently, the Internet Computer Protocol processes upwards of a half billion transactions per day — with significantly reduced energy consumption and costs — making ICP the world’s most productive blockchain.
With the Internet Computer Protocol, the promise of a 100% decentralized internet — a trustless “World Computer” upon which the broadest possible range of internet services can exist amongst massively distributed computers — has come to fruition.
About the DFINITY Foundation
The Switzerland-based DFINITY Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to developing the Internet Computer blockchain, was founded in 2016 by its Chief Scientist Dominic Williams. DFINITY’s Zurich headquarters contains the largest blockchain R&D center in the region and boasts one of the most extensive R&D teams in the industry, with many world-renowned cryptographers, researchers, and engineers. Including its research center in San Francisco, California, DFINITY employs over 200 people globally.
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