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Spare TikTok. There are bigger problems in US

By Zhang Zhouxiang | | Updated: 2023-01-03 08:28
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TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration taken, Aug 22, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

"It's highly addictive and destructive and we're seeing troubling data about the corrosive impact of constant social media use, particularly on young men and women here in America."

This is what Mike Gallagher, a Republican Congressman from Wisconsin, said about TikTok on the first day of 2023. He also described the smartphone app with at least 100 million users in the United States as "digital fentanyl".

Why does Gallagher hate TikTok so much? It is right for a Congressman to see a problem in so many people getting hooked on to so many video clips at the tap of a smartphone screen. To say nothing of the myriad other problems plaguing the US. By the end of 2020, 44 percent of students in the US used marijuana, which is legal for recreational use in over 20 states. Fentanyl overdose caused 42,700 deaths in 2020 alone. TikTok, or "digital fentanyl" as Gallagher calls it, at least makes people happy instead of killing them.

There is no dearth of addictive things in the US, be it Hollywood, or YouTube or Twitter. So many people pick up their phones and browse various apps first thing in the morning. Gallagher, however, does not see a problem there, unless the people are browsing TikTok.

The reason Gallagher finds TikTok "destructive", as anybody would have guessed, is the fact that TikTok is affiliated to Chinese company ByteDance. It matters little to him that some people even make money by sharing videos and attracting followers on the app.

For some time now, it is politically correct in the US to blame China for anything and everything and take harsh measures against Chinese companies such as Huawei, ZTE, and TikTok. Maybe the authorities in the US need to be reminded that TikTok is totally run by US teams, and by demonizing TikTok they are stopping their own residents from making something creative and their own people from enjoying life.

They would actually do better to spare TikTok and attend to more urgent problems.

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