TikTok sucks, but banning it would set a dangerous precedent.
On Wednesday, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to give President Biden the power to ban Chinese-owned TikTok from the United States. The rationale behind this is that the Chinese are using the platform to collect data on the American public and use it to manipulate them. China of course denies this, and defenders are rushing to their aid claiming there’s no proof that China is doing this.
Let’s get real, there’s no way China isn’t using TikTok to manipulate the public. TikTok is designed to be addictive, infinitely scrolling short videos of attractive people are basically digital crack to the average person. As someone who doesn’t use the site, there’s nothing more annoying than hanging out with someone and listening to them scroll through video after video, all full of sensationalistic bullshit by some asshole who has no idea what they’re talking about half the time. Seriously, my one friend constantly has his nose buried in his phone watching this shit while we’re at parties or just hanging out watching TV. If we’re playing video games, the very second I pause to go pee or grab another beer, out comes the phone and he’s got his nose buried in TikTok again. I want nothing more than to smack the phone out of his hand and stomp it into a million pieces. TikTok is turning people into retarded zombies with goldfish attention spans, and I hate it with a passion.
With all that said, I’m adamantly against banning it.
“BUT AJ,” you say, “YOU JUST SAID YOU HATE TIKTOK AND YOU SAID BEFORE YOU HATE THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT!! WHY ARE YOU AGAINST BANNING TIKTOK??”
Look, I hate a lot of things (I made a whole website on the premise for fuck’s sake), but just because I hate something doesn’t mean it should be illegal. Throughout the years I’ve championed freedom of speech and admonished censorship. I’d be a hypocrite if I only defended the things I agreed with. TikTok is no exception to this.
The moment we give the government permission to force ISPs to restrict access to certain websites, we’re effectively giving them permission to restrict access to information. Who the fuck is the government to tell me what information I can’t access? Sure, today it’s sites like TikTok in the name of “Chinese manipulation”, but tomorrow it could be sites like mine in the name of “hate speech”, the day after tomorrow it could be torrent sites in the name of “copyright infringement”, and the day after that it could be any site that questions the mainstream narrative in the name of “spreading false information”. We’re setting the precedent for the government to start blocking anything that might make them look bad or anything that a large campaign donor doesn’t like, basically stifling free speech. You know, exactly like what China does.
By giving the government the power to order providers to block access to certain websites, you’re also enabling internet lynch mobs to get sites closed down and silence opposition. As we’ve seen in the past, the Reddit and Twitter “liberal” (read the article I just linked if you’re wondering why “liberal” is in quotation marks) lynch mobs are quick to gang up on anyone who even slightly offends them and basically take away their careers and get them cancelled. If they cry loud enough the government steps in and gives them what they want to pacify them. Do you really want to give these lunatics the ability to decide what websites can and can’t exist? These people are mentally unstable, they’re offended by anything and everything, I’ll be fucked if I’m going to let these assholes dictate what I can and can’t read or do.
It’s not even about left or right politics at this point, it’s about our right as Americans- no, as HUMANS, to be able to hear both sides of a debate and form our own opinion based on that information. The government should never have the right to tell us that we can’t access that information because of some arbitrary bullshit.
Yes, TikTok is stupid, yes, it’s probably contributing to the decline of Generation Z, but it’s not child porn or something. While I genuinely believe that the Chinese government is using it to influence the American public, the truth is we have no concrete evidence of this. And even if they were, our own media does nothing but disseminate its own propaganda. I don’t see the government calling to ban CNN or Fox News, both of which are arguably doing more damage to this country and its people than TikTok. Banning TikTok but allowing YouTube, Instagram, and other social media sites to still exist simply because they’re not “Chinese-owned” is blatant hypocrisy. You really think these other sites aren’t being used to manipulate the public? You think the Communist Party of China doesn’t know how to manipulate YouTube’s algorithms and disseminate their propaganda through there?
TikTok sucks, but don’t give the government the power to ban it. Otherwise you’re opening up Pandora’s box, and you might end up regretting it later when one of your favorite sites (like this one) is suddenly banned by the government.