Biden Bans TikTok. Free Speech Online Now At Risk!

Written by Christopher Phillips.

The Senate just made waves across the country by backing President Joe Biden’s move to potentially ban TikTok, stirring up quite the buzz. The app, with its roots deeply embedded in China, has become a focal point in a broader debate about foreign espionage and the erosion of cultural values, not to mention the looming threat of widespread censorship that could reach beyond just TikTok.

The bill doesn’t instantly pull TikTok off American phones. Rather, it gives ByteDance, the app’s parent company, a nine-month period to find a buyer, with a potential extra three months if things are moving forward. This approach suggests we’re in for a long haul, possibly complicated by legal battles. “Rest assured, we aren’t going anywhere,” CEO Shou Zi Chew stated, thumbing his nose at the government’s steps.

Cultural Impact and Policy Concerns

TikTok’s saga isn’t just about who can see what data. It’s also about potential influence. Legislators worry that Beijing could use TikTok to shape U.S. public opinion by manipulating the app’s content—pushing certain viewpoints, especially ones that could sway the youth on hot-button topics like transgender and LGBT issues, and thus steering cultural conversations.

Interestingly, TikTok in China avoids these hot waters, sticking to educational and wholesome content. Stateside, however, it’s under fire not just for data concerns but also for possibly encouraging illegal behaviors like immigration law evasion. Despite these heavy accusations, TikTok insists it’s not influenced by the Chinese government. The battle lines are drawn: some see the ban as essential for national safety, while others fear it’s a first step toward clamping down on free speech.

The Broader Implications: A Gateway to Censorship?

The TikTok issue opens up a can of worms about government power and free speech. Critics of the ban are sounding alarms about the vague terms of the bill, concerned it could give any future administration a carte blanche to suppress any platform by dubbing it a security risk. This isn’t just paranoia—these tactics could conceivably extend to platforms like Twitter or Truth Social, which have been political battlegrounds of late.

This isn’t just about one app. The way the government handles TikTok could set a precedent for future actions against other platforms, particularly ones promoting free speech, like Twitter under Elon Musk’s stewardship. The interplay between big tech and politics, seen in the activities of platforms like YouTube and Instagram, underscores a larger struggle for control over digital narratives that shape political and social opinions across the nation.

Our Take

The move to ban TikTok, framed as a safeguard against national security threats, might just be the tip of the iceberg in a broader push toward online censorship. Protecting the country is crucial, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of the freedoms that define us. The unfolding TikTok drama could very well be a sign of what’s to come in the arena of free speech and digital autonomy. As conservatives, it’s critical we keep a watchful eye on any overreach that might threaten our basic rights. After all, the battle for digital freedom isn’t just about keeping an app on our phones—it’s about preserving the very essence of free speech for everyone, across all platforms.

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