The United States Should Ban TikTok

by Kevin Munger on March 23, 2023

This is an unusual post from me, in that I’m far from unique in making these kind of arguments. Despite what I see as a growing chorus of thoughtful critics advocating for a TikTok ban, no one seriously seems to think it could happen. If TikTok is already un-ban-able, our capacity for democratic control is already lost. I am optimistic that this is not the case, and that this remains a stand worth taking.

In anticipation of the 2020 US Presidential Election, President Trump threatened to ban TikTok — and went so far as to sign an Executive Order to that effect.

This was a hastily conceived response to what is a genuine but complicated problem. The immediate polarization of the issue and the liberal framing that Trump’s motive was xenophobic have prevented the development of a more reasoned debate. TikTok is the first major social media platform developed by a geopolitical rival to gain widespread adoption in the United States.

Although President Biden rescinded Trump’s EO, his administration has continued to investigate the platform and is considering new regulations that reflect this novel challenge. There is no reason to give TikTok the benefit of the doubt. The major US platforms have consistently failed to be responsible stewards of the awesome power they have appropriated over our media and politics, and TikTok has demonstrated the same irresponsibility — except that they are far more vulnerable to pressure from the Chinese regime.

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