US lawmakers look to ban Chinese, Russian social media

US lawmakers look to ban Chinese, Russian social media

  • Republican and Democratic politicians are introducing a new law that would seek to ban Chinese and Russian social media platforms like TikTok and Telegram from the country.
  • This comes on the back of fears that platforms like TikTok are being used by the Chinese government to collect data on Americans, spy on officials and manipulate the opinions of users.
  • Meanwhile, the US continues to send billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, while Chinese companies reportedly continue to support Russia’s military efforts.

It has long been understood that the version of TikTok that the rest of the world gets is different from the scaled-down version of the social media available in its founding nation, China.

In the US, the ByteDance-published social media platform has been a point of concern for politicians who worry that the app is being used to track US citizens, spy on the country’s officials and, if you’re into conspiracy theories, poison the minds of the American youth.

Now, despite President Joe Biden saying that TikTok will continue to be available in the US for the foreseeable future, it may not be for too long.

Politicians in the US are introducing new legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives to ban the super popular Chinese social media platform in the country.

The legislation goes beyond TikTok and would actually seek to ban all transactions by any social media company in or under the influence of China and Russia, Reuters reports.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Mike Gallagher teamed up with Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi to introduce the bipartisan bill.

“The federal government must take one more meaningful action to protect American users from the threat of TikTok,” Rubio said in a press release.

“We know it is used to manipulate feeds and influence elections. We know it answers to the People’s Republic of China. There is no more time to waste on pointless negotiations with a CCP puppet company. It’s time to ban Beijing-controlled TikTok forever.”

Congressman Gallagher went so far as to call TikTok “digital fentanyl that is enslaving Americans, collecting their data and censoring their news.”

“It is imperative that we do not allow hostile forces to potentially control social media networks that could easily be weaponized against us,” Krishnamoorthi said of the legislation.

“The twofold ANTISOCIAL CCP Act is a strong step in protecting our nation from the sinister digital surveillance and influence operations of totalitarian regimes.”

When it comes to Russian social media, the chat platform Telegram has less than 10 million users in the US. A pale number compared to the crowd of 80 million commanded by TikTok in the country. Of those, 60 percent are between the ages of 16 and 24.

The bill calling these states “adversaries” is in direct opposition to the recent meeting with Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Bali. Here the statesmen tried to smooth over some of the stormy relationship that the two world powers maintained in modern times.

Meanwhile, the US continues to send billions of dollars to help Ukraine defeat Russia in the ongoing conflict, while China is said to be aiding Russia’s own efforts.

It seems that political lines are drawn between countries with social media caught between.

TikTok says that the US government had not even completed its security review of the company before this law was proposed.

“It is troubling that, rather than encourage the administration to complete its national security review of TikTok, some members of Congress have decided to push for a politically motivated ban that will do nothing to protect national security of the United States,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement, cited by Reuters.

[Image – Solen Feyissa on Unsplash]

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