Is TikTok an actual danger to America?

I am in a minority.

No, not that. 😁

I am in the minority of Americans who do not use TikTok, the controversial Chinese-owned video-sharing app.

TikTok ran a series of TV commercials to fight a House vote

Los Angeles-based TikTok is owned by ByteDance, which is based in China, and the accusation against TikTok (aside from its addictive properties) is the China connection and the fear the Chinese government will usurp data from American users and will also use the app for propaganda purposes against Americans.

Proponents of a House bill (which passed with a powerful 352-65 vote) that would force the company to sever its Chinese connection or be banned in the U.S., pointed to massive anti-Israel information on the app after Israel’s retaliation against Hamas following the Oct. 7 massacre.

In China, Chinese companies are seen as extensions of the government, and what the government wants from the companies — it gets. 

Americans — from politicians to intelligence officials — have real fears that the Chinese Communist government will retrieve data about Americans, process it, and use it against American interests. TikTok is seen by critics as both a listening post, and megaphone, based on American shores.

As one TikTok opponent put it, would China allow ABC to broadcast freely from the Chinese mainland?

Attempting to allay these fears last year was TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, who vainly tried to convince lawmakers he never shared information with China, and never would. The House produced no evidence that it had, but held secret meetings about the influence of the app. We don’t know what they learned, but the size of the anti-TikTok vote suggests something spooked them.

TikTok made a strategic mistake in defending itself against the House vote, which proved to be overwhelming.

It mounted an aggressive push against the legislation using a pop-up message urging viewers to contact their reps to oppose the bill.

This resulted in a massive flood that forced some offices to shut off their phones, infuriating many lawmakers and enabling supporters of the bill to point to this as a real-life example of how TikTok could be used to influence American politics and legislation.

I was particularly worried to read of the young TikTokkers who threatened to kill themselves if the app went away. That’s almost prima facie evidence of the mental addiction it inflicts.

I never see anything on TikTok — other than what TikTokkers share on other platforms, like Facebook — but I did see TV commercials run by TikTok. One in that series that stuck in my memory was a tall Texas farmer saying how he uses TikTok to share educational agricultural information.

So it’s not just young people doing stupid things, and showing off excellent dance moves, I thought?

How many people are watching the agricultural videos vs the pro-Hamas videos, I wondered?

Opponents of the House bill say it has the scent of censorship.

I hear that concern, and I am reflexively in favor of the most free speech possible.

In this case, I don’t see the bill as an attempt to regulate speech, but to control who is permitted to post — rightfully banning Chinese Communist party propaganda — and also prohibiting the transfer of digital data to China. (Opponents of the bill say other data-sharing companies can do the same.)

The reality is this: We are at war with China.

It is an undeclared cold war, but China has the second-largest economy in the world, with $17.9 trillion in 2022, following only the U.S.’ $25.4 trillion.

China is increasing the amount it spends on arms, and is showing increasing belligerence around the world, mostly notably in regard to Taiwan.

It is using foreign aid to gain footholds in Latin America and Africa, and there is no question it is engaged in an expansionist philosophy to displace the United States as the world’s premiere superpower.

If you are of the opinion that the U.S. has occasionally misused its power, you ain’t seen nothing. The U.S. has always been constrained by law and public opinion. China is not.

Interestingly, the TikTok available in China is not the same as here, which actually has been totally banned in India.

And — China bans Google, Instagram, X, You Tube, and Facebook.

This is the face of our adversary.

Just as the First Amendment does not protect all speech — deliberate lies and calls to violence are excluded — nor should it protect all platforms.

Just as the Department of Justice has targeted individual companies for criminal behavior, I find it acceptable to target one company as a national security risk.

If TikTok frees itself from the grasp of China, it can continue pumping out silly dance videos and educational material about raising cows and sheep.

Freed from China, I might join myself.

14 thoughts on “Is TikTok an actual danger to America?”

  1. Like you, I’ve never been on TikTok. I also agree with you that we are in a war with China. Not a shooting war (thankfully not yet, anyway), but an economic and cultural war. And the government has a duty to pursue wartime limitations on how we do and don’t deal with an enemy. My understanding is that, if current legislation, as enacted by the House goes through, this will not instantly ban TikTok. First of all, there will likely be court action and appeals, which might take years. Secondly, what might be initially banned is not the app itself, but any updates, upgrades, etc. from your friendly App Store, whatever it may be. It could take a decade or more and hopefully, TikTok users will be weaned off, and probably have moved on to the next latest and greatest.

  2. I suspect, Stu, that most of your readers are in the Tik-Tok minority, including myself.

  3. I’m more worried about the 2.4 million illegal aliens who crossed the border into the USA in 2023 (according to government statistics, as reported on KYW this morning).

  4. Well, Trump was against TikTok at first. But, PA’s richest man, Billionaire Jeff Yass has a 15% stake in TikTok, worth about $20 Billion. Yass is also a Republican megadonor. He recently met with Trump, and Trump is now against banning TikTok. His lame excuse is that banning TikTok would only empower Meta (i.e. Mark Zuckerberg). Apparently Yass donates to Trump & Zuckerberg doesnt.

  5. [Just as the First Amendment does not protect all speech — deliberate lies and calls to violence are excluded — nor should it protect all platforms.]

    Somebody should tell Twitter and Facebook about this. 🙂

    1. Section 230 protects social media from being sued, like you can’t sue the phone company when someone makes hate calls.
      I “think” something is heading to Supreme Court to change that protection. I am undecided right now where I stand. Must think deeply about it.

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