The Reason the U.S. Wants to Ban TikTok

The Reason the U.S. Wants to Ban TikTok

The United States’ political obsession with blocking TikTok isn’t a recent phenomenon. Donald Trump tried it during his presidency in August 2020. The then-president’s executive order would have ended TikTok, but it never came into effect after being contested in a federal court.

Thus, it’s not surprising that last week, the country’s House of Representatives approved a bill that would require ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, to sell the app to American companies.

What should surprise us is Trump’s change of heart regarding the ban, now positioning against TikTok’s prohibition. The reason: pressure from a powerful Republican Party donor during a meeting with Trump earlier this month. Money has always wielded significant influence in the country’s political system.

The primary argument by representatives, both Democrats and Republicans in favor of the ban, lies in concerns that the Chinese government could be using the data of millions of American users as a tool for espionage.

However, what concerns the country’s political class more are the voices starting to rise against the economic and social situation of America’s middle and lower classes.

More and more influencers are going viral criticizing the government’s constant expenditure on interests foreign to voters. These voters feel increasingly unprotected against a system of hyperinflation, mass layoffs, and abuses of private healthcare.

On TikTok, an anti-American sentiment is brewing, potentially increasingly fueled by the Chinese algorithm. This is an easy observation to make once all the clues are connected. Most striking is that political representatives admit that this is precisely what China is doing: generating political discontent in American society.

But what about that First Amendment to the United States Constitution? Freedom of speech should take precedence over all things.

Moreover, this bill is not only seen as a precaution against potential Chinese propaganda but also acts as retaliation against similar actions China has implemented against American companies like Meta and Apple. In China, access to Facebook is blocked. At the same time, banning TikTok would significantly benefit major American social networks like Meta and X, which have lost ground to the Chinese rival.

If TikTok were forced to sell to an American company, it opens the door for China to take similar measures and press for companies like Tesla and Apple to be acquired by Chinese firms. This could be the start of a technological war between the United States and China.

In reality, it’s nearly impossible to think that TikTok would end up selling its most significant secrets (its code and successful algorithm) to American interests. Moreover, the bill will have a challenging journey in the Senate, as the Democratic leader of this chamber of the American government, Chuck Schumer, has not committed to holding a vote on the matter.