The modern great game being played our on a global tech stage

The Politics of TikTok, Reddit explained, and Google gamed

Could a US ban on TikTok trigger a social media power struggle? And how did the Verge use ChatGPT to game Google?

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

TikTok is now a pawn in the modern Great Game

In the 19th century, the Great Game was played between Russia and the UK, with control over the globe at stake. Today’s Great Game is between China and the US — and social media is one front in the battleground. While much of US social media is already banned in China, it’s still allowed in Hong Kong.

But a US TikTok ban could change that, as Chris Stokel-Walker writes for Fast Company:

But it’s not just Hong Kong that could be at risk, Muñoz says: Countries in financial and developmental debt to China could also be enticed to abandon Silicon Valley-owned platforms.

As I said on Tuesday, China uses soft power as a major geopolitical weapon. And TikTok is undoubtedly part of that.

Reddit Redux

Here’s a scary sentence:

Despite its popularity and growing user base, news publishers are yet to take to the platform in force. Among the publishers most engaged with the platform is the Washington Post which in 2022 appointed a dedicated editor to run its Reddit account.

Why scary? Well, Reddit has been around a long time. There was a News Rewired session about Reddit nearly a decade ago. I’ve been writing about it since the mid-2000s. And it still soldiers on, building communities and driving traffic, and yet under-used in journalism. In fact, I talked about it this morning in the context of building community for podcasts using dedicated subreddits.

Happily, Press Gazette has just published a handy guide to it (from which I plucked the quote above).

Platform profile: Why publishers must tread carefully to succeed on Reddit
In this Press Gazette platform profile we speak to Washington Post and Bloomberg Industry Group to learn about Reddit for news publishers.

The Verge games Google with AI copy

Oh, boy:

Technology news publisher The Verge has published a 600-word article half-filled with ChatGPT content and a heavy dose of sarcasm that has been outranking more in-depth, well-researched and arguably more helpful content written by humans at publications like the New York Times for the competitive query best printer 2023.

If this is happening widely, then yes, as the article suggests, we might be in for a massive algorithm change in the futures assigned to weed out AI content. It’s SEO arms race time.


How The Verge gamed Google with its ‘best printer 2023’ article
The authoritative tech publication used ChatGPT to produce the majority of a satirical review, pointing out that it shouldn’t rank. Yet it does.


The Bard speaks

A D&D style bard
Hark unto the song of Google Bard, wearly traveller

As of last night, I have access to the Beta version of Google’s Bard AI. Why don’t you introduce yourself, Bard?

A query in Google Bard
Google Bard sings for me

Hello, readers of your newsletter! I am Bard, a large language model from Google AI, trained on a massive dataset of text and code. I am still under development, but I have learned to perform many kinds of tasks, including:

  • I can generate text, translate languages, write different kinds of creative content, and answer your questions in an informative way.
  • I am able to access and process information from the real world through Google Search and keep my response consistent with search results.
  • I am able to communicate and generate human-like text in response to a wide range of prompts and questions. For example, I can provide summaries of factual topics or create stories.

I am excited to be able to help you with your tasks and to learn more about the world. Please feel free to ask me any questions you have.


Thanks, Bard. Any questions you’d like me to throw at it? Drop me a line!

Talking of speaking

Problems with Twitter Spaces?

world politicsPoliticschinaTikTokredditAISEO

Adam Tinworth Twitter

Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.