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Time to ban TikTok and end its casual support for terrorism


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Earlier this year, Congress appeared to be on the cusp of passing a TikTok ban. For those who have experienced the bitter partisanship in contemporary American politics, it might have seemed surprising. 

This is especially so given the current state of divided government in Washington where the legislative and executive branches of government – let alone the two houses of Congress – seldom seem to agree on much. 

But agreement on this issue in Washington makes sense. Pew Research found in March that Americans support a ban on TikTok 50% to 22%, with the policy attracting a majority of Republicans and a plurality of Democratic support. In an era when Republicans and Democrats struggle to agree on much, this is quite notable. 

The logo of TikTok app on a phone and a finger

As TikTok faced extinction, its China-based parent company, Bytedance, marshaled an army of lobbyists to whip up support. (Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

But something stopped that momentum in its tracks – the swamp rose up.

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As TikTok faced extinction, its China-based parent company, Bytedance, marshaled an army of lobbyists to whip up support. In just the first six months of 2023, TikTok’s parent company lavished $4.28 million on federal lobbyists tasked with defending the company’s interests on Capitol Hill – a tempo set to far outstrip the $5.3 million spent by the company on federal lobbying during all of 2022.

Their lobbying efforts were met with success. Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., the progressive “Squad” member famous for pulling a fire alarm, hosted a news conference defending the app. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., took to the Senate floor to block legislation in his chamber. And a handful of other members of Congress registered support for TikTok’s continued existence. 

This all happened even as the company’s chief executive struggled to satisfy lawmakers who quizzed him on privacy concerns and data security in March of this year. While Shou Zi Chew empirically denied that the company shared data with the Chinese Communist Party, his defense rings hollow just months later. 

In June, a former Bytedance executive leveled accusations that the company had surveilled Hong Kong TikTok users in 2018. And this month, Forbes reported that China’s government conducted an inspection of “TikTok’s internal workplace collaboration platform… ahead of the Chinese Community Party’s 20th National Congress” in October 2022. 

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Bytedance still claims that CCP regulators weren’t given access to “proprietary TikTok information.” As a tech company headquartered in Communist-run China, however, it’s hard to believe that Bytedance actually has the ability to protect the data and privacy of Americans using TikTok. 

Stories like these are why America has seen action from politicians across the political spectrum – we don’t want to find out in the years to come that our national security and personal privacy have been compromised by TikTok. Beginning with then Gov. Pete Ricketts in Nebraska in August 2020, governors have been signing executive orders banning the app from government devices. Late last year, President Biden finally did the same at the federal level.

But bans on government devices aren’t enough – the app needs to go. It’s a propaganda machine that promotes disinformation under the influence of our nation’s greatest foreign competitor. 

This is made all the more urgent by the fact that over a quarter of Americans aged 18-29 consume news from TikTok, and there are concerns about how the app may promote content about suicide and eating disorders to young people.

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When things seemed like they couldn’t get any more shocking, they did last week. As Israel continued to defend itself against Hamas terrorists, TikTok influencers took to the app to promote Usama Bin Laden’s so-called “Letter to America,” evangelizing antisemitism, anti-capitalism and anti-American messages.

It’s downright appalling to see people mainstreaming the lies of one of the most famous and evil terrorists on American social media. 

Our country is at a crossroads and it’s time for action. Congress should have banned TikTok earlier this year, but it’s not too late. 

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We cannot let the Chinese Communist Party’s favorite social media app for Americans undermine our love for liberty and respect for human life. Congress needs to put a total TikTok ban in place quickly for the good of our country.

It’s time to ban TikTok and to end its casual support for terrorism.

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