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Saturday June 15th

OPINION: Banning TikTok limits expression and free speech

Over half of the U.S. states have banned TikTok from state-issued government devices. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/ “TikTok” by Solen Feyissa. Aug. 1, 2020).
Over half of the U.S. states have banned TikTok from state-issued government devices. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/ “TikTok” by Solen Feyissa. Aug. 1, 2020).

By Ally Uhlendorf
Opinions Editor

For years, American politicians have been expressing their concerns regarding TikTok and its potential harm to our safety. According to these politicians, TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, is allowing the Chinese government to spy on American citizens and threaten our national security. Congress has now come to the solution of banning the app all together to keep us “safe,” which inevitably is a non-solution considering almost all apps can be argued to be “harming” our safety and tracking our data. 

TikTok is one of the number one communication platforms in the world, and is used not only for entertainment, but also for informational purposes. News sources, such as The Washington Post, The Daily Mail and more have all migrated to the app as an alternative news outlet. The social media platform allows for a more personal connection between companies and consumers, as well as a way to connect with younger generations. 

Banning TikTok would be infringing on Americans’ freedom of speech. If the government decides to shut down the app, the First Amendment needs to be taken into consideration. According to Shou Zi Chew, TikTok’s chief executive, the platform’s users include more than 150 million Americans. When posting content on TikTok, serious or not, American users are exercising their First Amendment rights. 

In order for the ban to actually pass, it must be proven that it is related to important, real governmental issues. As of right now, the government’s biggest argument is that by banning the app, American’s data and privacy will be protected. 

At that rate, it can be argued that all social media platforms should be banned as well. Apps like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are all tracking our data and analytics, so the exact same argument can be applied. 

The second main argument and goal of this ban is to deprive the Chinese government of a tool to spread false information. Instead of banning an app that is used by millions of Americans, why doesn’t the government enable more comprehensive privacy regulations? As of right now, the government has not provided any substantial evidence to prove that the Chinese government has utilized TikTok’s algorithm to promote false information. 

None of the evidence provided thus far by the government is sufficient enough to suppress First Amendment rights. Before passing the ban, evidence must be shown that proves that there is a true threat at hand, and that the proposed ban would prevent the potential danger. 

Our democracy relies on the free trade of ideas and information across the world, and we should be allowed to exercise that freedom through these platforms. Until there is a legitimate, evidence-based, justified threat, TikTok should remain available for free use for all citizens.




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