In August 2020, President Trump banned the video-sharing app TikTok through an executive order. He did this because he recognized that the app was a threat to national security. It was definitely a risky move, but it had to be done.
Joe Biden reversed Trump’s TikTok ban in June 2021 because, obviously, Orange Man Bad. Despite the risks posed by the app, which are acknowledged by members of both parties, the Biden administration will never ban TikTok.
When Trump banned the app in August 2020, the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration, and the U.S. Armed Forces had already banned TikTok on federal government phones because of the security risks.
“TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including Internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories,” Trump’s executive order read. “This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.”
The national security risks of TikTok don’t need to be a partisan issue. In fact, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) admitted that Donald Trump was right to warn about the ties between the Chinese Communist Party and the social media platform TikTok.
“This is not something you would normally hear me say, but Donald Trump was right on TikTok years ago,” Warner said last year. “If your country uses Huawei, if your kids are on TikTok, if your population uses WeChat as a social media platform, the ability for China to have undue influence is, I think, a much greater challenge and a much more immediate threat than any kind of actual, armed conflict. China having this kind of technology domination in a number of countries ought to scare the heck out of us because we’ve seen the kind of Orwellian surveillance state they’ve already created within China.”
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While members of both parties acknowledge the risks, TikTok will never be banned by the Biden administration. For starters, the administration hasn’t been shy about using the app to help advance its agenda. During Biden’s first year in office, celebrity TikTok-ers were brought in to help his COVID-19 vaccination push, and last year, he invited transgender activist and TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney to the White House.
But the issue is bigger than just the administration’s embrace of TikTok influencers. Biden’s Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo, said the quiet part out loud in a little-noticed interview with Bloomberg earlier this month.
“The politician in me thinks you’re gonna literally lose every voter under 35, forever,” she said. “However much I hate TikTok—and I do, because I see the addiction in the bad s*** that it serves kids—you know, this is America.”
So there you have it. TikTok represents a very dangerous and very real threat to our national security, but the Biden administration won’t ban it because they don’t want to lose the votes of young people who are addicted to the app. They are accepting the national security risk because they care more about power than the safety or privacy of the American people.
Donald Trump did the right thing to protect Americans, and clearly, it will always take a Republican administration to put the safety of its citizens ahead of political considerations.