US enters age of barbarism following Montana’s statewide TikTok ban
Published: Apr 15, 2023 07:15 PM
Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times

The Montana House of Representatives on April 14 approved a total ban on TikTok inside the state, making it the first US state to pass legislation banning TikTok on personal devices.

Since US lawmakers said TikTok is a national security threat, many US allies such as Canada and Australia have followed suit in banning TikTok on government devices. However, the nature of the ban has changed this time. This is the first time that a ban on TikTok has been in implemented statewide for personal use.

Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, noted that he was surprised by the ban. In fact, the US has restrictions on government devices, but this is the first ban on personal use. The US is now entering an age of barbarism, which is actually a manifestation of the degradation of civilization. From the TikTok hearing, it can be seen that many lawmakers are ignorant, with purely malicious provocations and baseless criticism and condemnation of anything related to China.

TikTok has been more stringent than other US companies in terms of compliance and privacy protection. Previously, TikTok has completed migrating information of its US users to servers at Oracle Corp. It is also worth noting that it refuses political advertising because it does not want the platform to become a battleground for malicious political disputes. It is unreasonable for some American politicians to continue to suppress TikTok especially in personal devices level.

Some US media outlets pointed out that the bill faces legal challenges but also serves as a testing ground for a TikTok-free America that anti-China lawmakers have envisioned.

"As can be seen from the hearing, none of the lawmakers presented any possible evidence to accuse TikTok. Therefore, It is difficult to ban TikTok at the federal level, and even at the state legislative level. TikTok can still take legal measures. But dangerous trends can indeed be noticed from the Montana bill. There is no guarantee that other states in the US will follow, " Lü said.

In fact, banning TikTok would harm the interests of the new generation in the US. With 150 million American users, TikTok has not only a large and loyal user base, but has also become a habit for young people, and has integrated into the livelihoods and interests of many Americans. Many internet celebrities rely on TikTok for their livelihood, and many products increase sales through TikTok channels. Banning TikTok in the US would be the largest market-disrupting action in its history and the largest event against American freedom of speech.

If US lawmakers intensify their unfriendly and irrational approach toward TikTok, the losses may not only be young voters, but may also cause spiritual anxiety for young people in the US. They would lose a platform for making friends and expressing free speech, which would also disrupt the balance of existing online platforms and the integrity of the online ecosystem in the US. This could pose a potential threat to social stability of the US, Lü told the Global Times.

Even Elon Musk said in an interview with BBC that "It would help Twitter I suppose if TikTok was banned, because then people would spend more time on Twitter and less on TikTok. But even though that would help Twitter, I would be generally against banning of things."

The ban on TikTok has set a bad precedent. Today, the US government can ban TikTok, and tomorrow, some politicians may find a different reason to ban Twitter and other platforms. The ban on the popular social media platform aligns with Washington's policy direction, and completely undermines the reputation of the US as an open economy.

From Huawei to TikTok, the US has repeatedly generalized the concept of national security and abused its power to unjustly suppress foreign companies. On one hand, the fear of TikTok is rooted in the deep-seated arrogance and hegemonism of the US, which cannot accept that China has world-class enterprises in technology.

On the other hand, from a business perspective, some internet platforms have indeed felt the powerful strength of TikTok. Mark Zuckerberg once referred to TikTok as a "very effective competitor."

However, none of these can be used as a reason for US politicians to ban TikTok because punishing a mature and popular platform like TikTok without evidence will cause huge damage to the US.

The US will never achieve "security" by killing TikTok, nor will it gain any glory. Their killing of TikTok is equivalent to detonating an atomic bomb in Times Square, which will severely damage the US' own legal and value systems, and blow up its global image.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.