Why banning TikTok is good for America

It may be justifiable for some citizens to be lulled into sleep by events in the American political system. After all, there’s little Congress can accomplish with party control split between the two chambers and an insurgent wing of House Republicans, which is causing headaches for Speaker Mike Johnson (La.). Not to mention that the repeat of the 2020 presidential election did not arouse much enthusiasm among the electorate.

But within a year, TikTok’s more than 170 million U.S. users could wake up and realize they no longer have access to the popular social media platform.

Congress recently passed a foreign aid bill that included a ban on TikTok in the U.S. if its parent company, ByteDance, does not divest its shares to a U.S. company within nine months. President Biden, who can extend the deadline by three months, signed the bill into law on April 24.

Rising geopolitical tensions between the United States and China and national security concerns prompted the movement to ban TikTok. Congress has already banned it on federal government devices, as have most states, but an outright ban would go further.

ByteDance is a China-based company and lawmakers are concerned that the Chinese government could gain access to citizens’ personal data. Additionally, there are concerns that TikTok could spread disinformation or manipulate Americans’ views about China, which could sow division and confusion in the face of a real Chinese threat.

But beyond national security concerns, there may be other reasons why banning TikTok could be good for America.

First, a TikTok ban could motivate juvenile Americans to pay more attention to politics. It’s not often that something that is readily available and common to Americans is taken away from them. According to Pew Research Center, most adults under 30 and teenagers employ TikTok. Over the course of a year, a source that millions of Americans employ not only for entertainment and socializing, but also to promote their petite businesses, learn about DIY projects and stay informed about the latest news and information, could disappear.

While U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) is the only Gen Z member of Congress believes the ban will harm Democrats’ abilities To reach juvenile voters, a ban could energize juvenile Americans. The social media platform ban appears to have happened in Putin’s Russia or Xi’s China, not Biden’s America.

A potential ban could encourage more juvenile people to learn more about politics and engage in the political process that led to the law in the first place. It may even spark a discussion about civil liberties and the challenge of striking the right balance between security and free speech rights, a debate already ongoing in the wake of protests on college campuses in support of Palestinians across the country.

Second, the TikTok ban focuses more attention on social media as a news source. If the main concern about TikTok is China’s potential ability to spread misleading information, doesn’t this also apply to other social media platforms by users with nefarious intentions?

More and more Americans, especially younger generations, are getting their political news from social media. While some social media platforms have safeguards in place to limit the spread of misinformation, social media posts are not fact-checked to the same standards as more time-honored media.

In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on February 26 in two cases that raised the question of whether social media companies are simply information carriers (similar to a telephone line) or rather information outlets that may be subject to editorial processes (like a newspaper). If the Supreme Court decides the former, society will need to allocate more resources to media literacy, including teaching the skills needed to sift through social media trash for credible sources of information.

Finally, the bill to ban TikTok was a uncommon opportunity for bipartisan support and opposition. 118vol Congress passed just 34 bills last year and is on track to become one of the least productive in history. The bill banning TikTok passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House (360-58) and Senate (79-18).

Opposition to the bill also produced some captivating bedfellows. Former President Donald Trump wrote on Truth Social that the ban would only enhance the influence of Meta, which controls Facebook and Instagram. He wrote: “I don’t want Facebook, which cheated in the last election, to do better.” asset Sam joined TikTok on June 1and after posting one video, he already has almost 6 million followers

MAGA Patriots may agree with free speech organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Democrats (and Democratic-leaning people) who make up the majority (6 in 10) of TikTok’s news audience. Even habitual opponents, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), both voted against the bill.

For some, a TikTok ban would be a welcome respite from absurd videos that may or may not be so harmless, but for others it is an affront to free speech rights. Either way, the possibility of a TikTok ban could galvanize juvenile people into action, place greater emphasis on media literacy and even create common ground among a bitterly polarized electorate.

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