Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Opinion / To the Point

TikTok shouldn't be a scapegoat of US political game

By Zhao Manfeng | | Updated: 2024-02-22 11:14
Share - WeChat
US President Joe Biden poses for a selfie at CJ's Cafe in Los Angeles, California, US February 21, 2024. [Photo / Agencies]

US President Joe Biden's recent appearance on TikTok as part of an outreach to young voters ahead of the November election has, expectedly, sparked a controversy given his administration's previous hardline stance against the short-video platform citing security concerns. In fact they even banned it on federal devices. The reason: TikTok is owned by the Chinese private company ByteDance.

It's no surprise that TikTok has become a focal point in the verbal sparring among US politicians leading up to the November election. Yet, TikTok is simply a widely used social media platform accessible in over 150 nations. It has no intention of compromising the security of other countries. If popularity is deemed a threat, then US technology and popular culture would pose significant threats to the global community.

Therefore, it is preposterous for both Republicans and Democrats to mock Biden's decision to involve TikTok. For a considerable time, a primary concern among lawmakers and other government officials has been the potential for TikTok to share data on US users with the Chinese government or for the Chinese government to compel the platform to manipulate the content shown to users based in the United States. According to US reasoning, anyone using US computers, phones, or software would encounter similar risks of exposure to US intelligence.

In March last year, when skeptical US lawmakers grilled TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew over national security concerns, Chew's responses were often cut short as members of Congress asked for "yes" or "no" responses. Last month, in a tense congressional testimony over online safety for children, US Senator Tom Cotton repeatedly asked Singaporean TikTok CEO Chew whether he is or has ever been a member of or affiliated to the Communist Party of China, even though Chew reminded Cotton multiple times that he is Singaporean.

TikTok has informed Congress that the short video app is now used by 170 million Americans, up from 150 million a year earlier. This increasing number only underscores its popularity among the American populace, particularly the younger generation. In a nation that proclaims to prioritize freedom, the government and Congress should honor users' freedom to choose the app, rather than engaging in a witch hunt.

The US politicians' failure to present clear, compelling evidence of TikTok's security risks further underscores the potential for hypocrisy. If the app genuinely posed a significant threat, it would be contradictory of Biden's campaign team to encourage its use. Some oppose Biden's decision, also possibly driven by political motivations rather than genuine security concerns.

TikTok shouldn't be a scapegoat of US political game. The controversy only suggests that the bipartisan nature of politics in the US exists primarily to oppose each other, prioritizing politics and the goal of undermining the other side while disregarding facts and focusing solely on immediate interests. They should therefore focus on the more important issues affecting the lives of people in the country and the world, and leave the app, which is just a source of entertainment for the youth, alone.

The author is a writer with China Daily.

Most Viewed in 24 Hours
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349