Time May Be Clicking Away on Washington’s TikTok Problem

March 4th, 2024 5:34 PM

After testy testimony before Congress several weeks ago, it appears that time may be clicking away for TikTok, the communist Chinese government-tied social media app that is all the rage with our nation’s youth. Amid the fanfare of love him or hate him, Elon Musk’s X platform (formerly Twitter), TikTok had faded into the background a bit, but it remains a pernicious and deeply troubling part of the social media universe. 

Just ask President Joe Biden.

In a perplexing if not hypocritical move, basement Biden 2.0 continues to use the app for his reelection campaign, posting nearly 50 TikTok videos after having banned roughly 4 million federal employees from using it, among other data security measures.

But there are still deep concerns about TikTok’s use of data, including data from children, and how the communist Chinese government may or may not have access to it. New social media usage statistics provide a cause for concern and should give one pause, especially considering the fact that American kids are using TikTok 60 percent more than U.S.-based YouTube. And if that wasn’t bad enough, 33 percent of American adults are scrolling through the Chinese social media juggernaut as well. The fear of this open portal for American’s information heading to the Chinese Communist Party is why several states have already implemented bans on the app.

The bad news here is that of late the mounting pressure to ban the app in the U.S. has largely subsided given the multitudes of other major issues that are ripping at the fabric of the country. But add to that fact this from The Wall Street Journal just over a month ago: “TikTok Struggles to Protect U.S. Data From Its China Parent.” A little-known unit called “Project Texas” was created to allay fears that China is hoovering up Americans' data to one day use against them, but according to The Journal even this group is sharing info with parent company ByteDance, which has ties with the communist Chinese government. 

But the problems don’t stop there. CBS News’s 60 Minutes just a few weeks ago uncovered how videos posted on TikTok are providing illegal immigrants with “step-by-step instructions” for hiring smugglers and entering America through a small gap along the southern border. From MRC Free Speech America, more on this bit of news:

“The 60 Minutes segment showed illegal aliens pouring through a gap in the border fence. ‘We wondered how all of these migrants knew about this particular entryway into California,’ correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi began. ‘The answer was in their hands.’ The video shows Alfonsi talking with migrants and learning they utilized TikTok. Alfonsi reported that a TikTok post instructs migrants on hiring smugglers. 

“TikTok bans illegal content, including ‘content which promotes or facilitates illegal services’ and ‘national security-related offenses.’ The Communist Chinese government-tied app’s own policy also bans ‘human exploitation, including trafficking and smuggling’ content, but in doing so, the platform does still allow ‘for migrants and refugees to be able to document their journeys.’”

Aside from a few voices cautioning against and/or calling for an outright “ban” of the platform following this revelation from 60 Minutes, Congress, the media and, by extension, the American people have all failed to keep their eye on the ball regarding the very real threat being thumbed through daily by Americans (predominantly our kids) in the millions. Indeed, we live in a time where at 13 Baltimore High Schools there is not a single student proficient in math — not one. But this begs the question: how many of those kids are getting their actual education, such as it is, from TikTok on their phone? 

Some of this played out in the halls of Congress as Big Tech CEOs, including Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, Snap’s Evan Spiegel, Discord’s Jason Citron, TikTok’s Shou Zi Chew and X’s Linda Yaccarino testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. For his part, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) did not hold back while grilling the Big Tech executives. “You have blood on your hands,” Graham told them. “You have a product that’s killing people.” And in one dramatic moment, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) — who has routinely pounded Big Tech for its lack of action — even asked Facebook head honcho Zuckerberg if he would apologize to the parents of children allegedly harmed by his product in the chamber, at which point, awkwardly, the CEO kind of did so.

Say what you will about Facebook, or even X for that matter, but they do not have strong ties to communist China the way TikTok does, and that means that the latter presents a very different and grave threat. 

Take this example from an MRC Free Speech America exclusive last year:

“Fox News China expert Gordon Chang said that TikTok is untrustworthy and the CEO can’t necessarily guarantee how user data is used by the Communist Chinese government; former member of the Defense Intelligence Community Scott Kieff said that the U.S. should believe China when it reveals that it’s being nefarious; and former Deputy National Security Adviser KT McFarland noted the disturbing ways the Chinese government can use TikTok to influence Americans.”

Many experts, including Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr, have stated that there may be no other way to combat the impact of TikTok on Americans than an outright ban. “There simply isn't ‘a world in which you could come up with sufficient protection on the data that you could have sufficient confidence that it’s not finding its way back into the hands of the [Chinese Communist Party],’” Carr warned.