Twitter erupted over President Joe Biden’s administration finally ending its two-year long appeasement of the anti-free speech, communist Chinese government-tied TikTok app as bipartisan concerns over consumer data and national security threats reached a crescendo.
The Wall Street Journal reported Mar. 15 that the U.S. Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) demanded that ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese-backed parent company, sell its stake to another entity not tied to the Chinese government. Otherwise, per The Journal, the video-sharing app could face a full ban in the U.S. Some Twitter personalities reacted to the news, with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) calling for a complete ban and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) slamming the Biden administration for slow-walking its action.
Former Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland exclusively told MRC Free Speech America that the Biden administration has reached the right conclusion.
“It took him a long time to get there, but it’s the right conclusion,” McFarland said. “Either ByteDance needs to sell TikTok to an American carrier or it should be banned in the United States—not just on government. That was the first step that individual states said that you couldn’t download the TikTok app on cellphones under the government. The next step was ‘Well, we won’t let the military people download it into their devices owned by the government, whichever government it is. This is a deeper stage.’”
She continued: “This is what we proposed in the Trump administration. Biden rolled it back, now he appears to be going back to Trump’s original decision, but we will see.”
Hawley, a vocal proponent of banning TikTok, has spoken directly with whistleblowers who allege data abuses in the TikTok app. In reaction to Biden’s new demands, Sen. Hawley tweeted: “Just ban it.”
Just ban it https://t.co/dHSobjCLjh
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) March 15, 2023
Similarly, Blackburn touted the administration’s action against the Chinese-backed app saying she was “glad” Biden was “finally waking up to the national security threat posed by TikTok and the CCP.”
Glad to see the Biden administration finally waking up to the national security threat posed by TikTok and the CCP.https://t.co/XrgRoYi0Vf
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) March 16, 2023
TikTok is considering “splitting” from ByteDance if a deal with the Biden administration fails, reported Bloomberg. However, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) warned in a tweet that a potential split between TikTok and ByteDate “cannot be a ‘separation in name only’” and said that ByteDance must not “indirectly retain control of TikTok.”
This cannot be a “separation in name only” deal that allows Bytedance to indirectly retain control of TikTok.
My ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act is the only bicameral and bipartisan bill that would ban Chinese-owned TikTok.https://t.co/Pl2YuZu9QY
— Senator Marco Rubio (@SenMarcoRubio) March 15, 2023
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) appeared on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” to tout his newly introduced SAFETY on Social Media Act, a bill that would sanction “untrustworthy social media services like TikTok that are controlled by the CCP. “I haven’t seen how any deal protects the American people from TikTok. I mean, TikTok is hoovering up all the data on their phones, their emails, their pictures, their text messages, and it’s also exposing our children to obscene and violent and eating disorders and body image issues before they even click on a video. And of course, it’s a news source for a lot of Americans. So think about that, the Chinese communists now have a major news source in America,” said Cotton.
No deal to remove TikTok from Chinese control will be able to protect Americans. TikTok should be banned from the U.S. pic.twitter.com/p8f3AWrsfo
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) March 17, 2023
Biden and some Democrats have admitted concerns over TikTok in the past, and some liberal figures even applauded the latest move by CFIUS.
Chairman of the Select Committee on the CCP Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Ranking Member Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) issued a joint statement calling the latest developments against ByteDance “encouraging.” “Reports that the Biden administration is demanding a full divestment of ByteDance ownership of Tiktok, or else face a ban in the United States, are encouraging. While the details are important—including complete control over TikTok’s crucial algorithm and complete separation of TikTok from all CCP-controlled investors—these reports confirm what we have long maintained: TikTok, under its current ownership and control structure, is an unmitigable threat to our national security and needs to be dealt with as such.”
Select Committee Chairman @RepGallagher and Ranking Member @CongressmanRaja issue a joint statement following reports that the Biden administration is forcing CCP-controlled ByteDance to divest from @tiktok_us or face a ban: pic.twitter.com/KC6udWX5pf
— The Select Committee on the CCP (@committeeonccp) March 17, 2023
Center for a New American Security Vice President Paul Scharre applauded the federal government’s demands, asserting that “there is no deal that keeps TikTok beholden to the Chinese Communist Party that will satisfy US national security concerns.” CNAS is labeled as a “progressive think tank” focused on foreign policy by Influence Watch. In These Times, reported how CNAS assisted Kamala Harris on her foreign policy advisory board.
White House demands ByteDance sell TikTok or face ban.
Good. There is no deal that keeps TikTok beholden to the Chinese Communist Party that will satisfy US national security concerns.
Only solution is a sale or ban.https://t.co/aNsvE0njAu
— Paul Scharre (@paul_scharre) March 16, 2023
But not all left-leaning personalities are happy with the administration’s move. NBC News Senior Reporter Ben Collins pushed alarmism about the electoral consequences of taking credit for banning one of the most used social media apps in the country. “The No. 1 way to permanently and irreparably nuke your chances with the Gen Z electorate is to be the party that takes credit for banning TikTok,” wrote Collins in a tweet. “And, remember, they’re going to outlive us all.”
The No. 1 way to permanently and irreparably nuke your chances with the Gen Z electorate is to be the party that takes credit for banning TikTok.
And, remember, they’re going to outlive us all.
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) March 16, 2023
President Biden and his administration have slow-walked decisive action against TikTok and its parent company for over two years now.
A ban of the app had been proposed before. On August 6, 2020, then-President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order, “Executive Order on Addressing the Threat Posed by TikTok,” effectively banning transactions with communist Chinese-owned ByteDance Ltd and its subsidiaries, including TikTok. A second order was signed by Trump on August 17, 2020, ordering ByteDance Ltd. to fully divest its stakes in the app within 90 days. Later, President Biden regrettably reversed the Trump-era executive orders, prompting conservative leaders to condemn the move.
Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Brendan Carr warned in an exclusive MRC Free Speech America interview that it was important for the federal government to “move forward with either a nationwide ban of TikTok or some type of solution that involves a complete decoupling of TikTok from a corporate structure from any entity that is beholden to the CCP.”
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