One thing is for certain: U.S. officials’ anti-TikTok crusade will continue into 2023.
Republicans and Democrats now appear mostly unified in their attempts to undermine the power of the immensely popular social media platform. TikTok's parent company Bytedance is Chinese-owned, which, officials argue, could lead to American data being turned over to the Chinese government.
Along with a handful of governors, federal officials are moving to bar TikTok from government devices. This week, the chief administrative officer for the House of Representatives issued a directive ordering all lawmakers and staff to remove the popular social media app from work phones.
President Joe Biden also just signed into law a spending bill to fund the government that, oddly enough, bans TikTok from government devices.
A couple weeks back, I wrote about what I feel is a bizarre lawmaker obsession with banning TikTok.
All of this is quite odd, from my perspective. A couple weeks back, I wrote about what I feel is a bizarre lawmaker obsession with banning TikTok, despite the fact that other popular social platforms have been manipulated and misused by foreign governments.
I agree that TikTok does come with some security risks. But the rush to ban TikTok doesn’t inspire confidence in the U.S. government’s ability to tackle the broader problem of social media manipulation.
We know, for example, that Facebook and Twitter were used by foreign agents to weaponize propaganda in 2016 and sew division ahead of the presidential election. And we know similar efforts were made in 2020.
But Congress still hasn’t seen fit to rein in the influence of these American-owned social networks — despite being mocked for their weakness.
Lawmakers and others who focus singularly on banning TikTok, as though it represents a unique level of danger compared to other social platforms, show us how little they actually know about the pitfalls of social media.