The government must act against the dangerous application TikTok

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Senator Marco Rubio recently introduced a bipartisan bill that would ban the social media app TikTok from operating in the United States. It is long overdue and much needed.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese internet company, which is required by Chinese law to make the app’s data available to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – an app that collects troves of data on tens of millions of people. American children and adults every day.

Rubio is now stepping up to protect Americans from “digital Chinese fentanyl,” as FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr called the app. Rubio’s claims that its bill, the “CCP’s Anti-Social Law,” would prohibit and block all transactions by any social media company in, or “under the influence of,” China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela, although the act only refers to TikTok. Republican Representatives from Wisconsin Mike Gallagher and Democratic Representative from Illinois Raja Krishnamoorthi introduced complementary legislation in the House of Representatives.


There are two pressing reasons why the government should embark on Rubio’s approach:

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., is co-sponsoring a bill to curb TikTok. (Tyler Olson/Fox News)

1. National Security

TikTok is a serious threat to our national security. Recently, the depth of the company’s ties to the CCP has been exposed. According to Forbes, LinkedIn profiles reveal that 23 of ByteDance’s directors previously worked for CCP propaganda outlets, and at least 15 ByteDance employees now work for them.

The real danger of these close ties is the CCP’s potential access to US user data. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has now admitted that “employees outside the United States, including employees based in China, may have access to U.S. TikTok user data.” If Chinese TikTok employees can access US data, that means the CCP has access to it.

And there is a lot of data that the CCP has access to. TikTok, more than other apps, is aggressively harvesting data, both in the range of data it collects and in its methods. “It works like a very sophisticated surveillance app…pulling everything from search and browsing history, potentially keystroke patterns, biometrics including facial fingerprints, bill fingerprints,” Carr said.

And The New York Times reported how the app can track cellphone users’ locations and collect internet browsing data, even when users visit unrelated websites.

In addition to data security issues, there are also adverse influence issues. The CCP could use TikTok and its algorithms to influence the United States politically, to spread videos that support CCP-friendly politicians, or to exacerbate divisions in American society. A power hostile to the United States with potential control of a vast social media network that could be easily weaponized for surveillance and influence operations against us is extremely dangerous.

2. Children of America

The design and content of the app itself is incredibly harmful to our children and their brains. TikTok is now linked to mental illness, anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder, and even physical tics, especially among teenage girls. The app’s recommendation algorithms are very aggressive, continually filling a user’s feed with content.

And these algorithms can quickly send kids down rabbit holes of sexual or drug-related content. As reported by the New York Post, a minor’s account was “bombarded with marketing for strip clubs, promoted paid pornography and videos pushing the user to …yet another account has been lured into a TikTok space called “KinkTok,” complete with torture devices. , chains, whips and the like.”

TikTok has also been shown to promote dangerous eating disorder content for girls, contributing to a wave of eating disorder cases that are spreading across the country. And a Forbes review of hundreds of recent TikTok live streams found that “viewers routinely use comments to goad young girls into doing acts that appear to be along the lines of child pornography – rewarding those who oblige with freebies. TikTok…It’s “the digital equivalent of going down the street to a strip club full of 15-year-olds. “”

President Joe Biden has been reluctant to take action against Chinese social media app TikTok.

President Joe Biden has been reluctant to take action against Chinese social media app TikTok.
(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The Chinese know all this. They have recognized these harms to children and therefore do not allow TikTok to operate in the same way in China. Instead, the Chinese version promotes educational content and limits usage by children to 40 minutes per day, with nighttime scrolling prohibited. China protects its children from harm from TikTok and exports the “digital fentanyl” version to American children.

Biden’s inaction

Despite these clear and pressing threats, President Joe Biden has so far taken no action against the company. Instead, he tried to strike a deal with TikTok that could allow the parent company to retain control of the app in the United States.


All of that could change, however, as reports reveal the deal stalled recently, with his administration at odds over whether to force TikTok’s Chinese owner out of its US operations.

The threats are increasingly evident to all. Five states have already banned the use of TikTok on government phones, and the US Senate unanimously passed a similar ban for federal devices last Wednesday.


Time is up

TikTok’s time is up. This is not a partisan issue. Biden and Democrats should follow Krishnamoorthi’s lead and adhere to his bipartisan approach, that of Gallagher and Rubio to ban TikTok from operating in the United States.

Or at the very least, the Biden administration should issue an order requiring ByteDance to sell its U.S. TikTok operations to a U.S. company or set it up as a standalone company. Our national security and the health and safety of our children depend on it.


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