This week, the US Congress put its fist on the table. ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, has 9 months to sell its platform to an American company, if it wants to continue operating on Uncle Sam's territory. Otherwise, it's out the door.

It's an established fact that social networks are designed as machines for sucking up data, showering users with viral content (annoying and hateful if possible), creating dependency, and not as informational tools designed to elevate us intellectually, enlighten us on the beauties and subtleties of the world, or create links between humans (which was the initial promise, for those who remember). So be it.

But, as such, why is TikTok so much more disturbing than its American counterparts Facebook, Instagram or SnapChat?

First, there's the problem of the algorithm. The technology that pulls the strings of the recommendations (the robot that decides what we're going to see on the app) is particularly powerful, and directly subject to the goodwill of the Chinese authorities.

Then there's the design itself, based on "signals of interest" emitted by the user. Here again, it's the app's strike force that is singled out, as it is able to evolve in line with users' changing preferences and appetites, with a precision that defies comprehension. From the outset, the platform has benefited from considerable human and technological investment, and inherited the practices of its cousin Douyin in terms of content and user tagging.

Then there's what I'd call its "pumping speed". The format, based on short videos, enables the device to suck up and digest our habits faster than its counterparts based on text, images or longer videos. Data collection is accelerated.

Then there's the support. Designed from the outset for mobile devices and only for short videos, the application has taken a step ahead of its peers, who have had to adapt their interfaces designed for computer browsing, and conform them to intensive viewing.

There's "the concept of openness". Once we've finished soaking up content related to our interests, the application offers us so-called exploration videos, which go beyond our initial curiosity. Their purpose is to probe our desires to better define us, and to keep us on the network, of course.

There's also a social phenomenon. TikTok encourages users to form groups using hashtags, to better scan personalities and their behavior in community.

Beyond these fundamentals, what Western authorities fear is obviously the network's allegiance to Beijing, and the possibility of personal data being used by Chinese authorities. The tool is so well imagined that it enables state-of-the-art spying on populations. Others argue that the platform is capable of dumbing down the masses. There's no need to explain here the benefits of a population riveted to cat videos rather than geopolitical studies.