In this show, Liz Wheeler discusses the bill introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and other legislators that would make it illegal for the Chinese-run social media titan, TikTok, to operate in the United States. The discussion revolves around whether the government can ban TikTok and if they should do so. The reasons cited include concerns about China spying on American citizens, collecting sensitive data, spreading influence campaigns, propaganda, or censorship, and a bipartisan consensus that TikTok poses a security threat to the nation.
It is noted that the Biden campaign prohibited its campaign staffers from having TikTok on their phones. The discussion also examines the permissions that TikTok asks for when downloaded and the widespread acknowledgement that TikTok is a Chinese data collection app. Liz argues that the government cannot ban TikTok due to current legal restrictions. However, the more pressing question is whether the government should ban TikTok, which could also shed light on its ability to do so.
The app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has been collecting data from American citizens and poses a national security threat. The company denies these accusations, claiming that the data from the American version of the app is stored in the U.S. or Singapore. However, Liz argues that the Chinese government has an interest in lying about the data collection and tracking capabilities of the app. TikTok uses an algorithm to tailor content to individual users, tracking and collecting data to create a user profile that informs future content recommendations.
As to whether the U.S. government should ban TikTok due to its potential influence on American youth and security concerns, Liz argues that, from a legal perspective, such a ban is constitutional and could be accomplished through legislation, or via the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CIFIUS), a secretive inter-agency committee that reviews the national security implications of foreign investments in American companies. Liz also provides a brief history of CIFIUS and examples of previous cases it has reviewed.
She also touches on the potential consequences of banning TikTok, including the impact on free speech and the possibility that it would lead to the creation of similar apps owned by other countries. Liz maintains that the U.S. should prioritize the protection of American citizens’ security and privacy over the economic interests of foreign companies.
This transcript was generated automatically and may contain typos, mistakes, and/or incomplete information.
Hi, welcome to The Liz Wheeler Show. I’m Liz Wheeler. Guess what we’re gonna talk about today? This is gonna be everybody’s favorite topic. We are going to talk about TikTok. That’s rightk TikTok. Would you believe that TikTok has a billion active users on it? I know we all think of this as just the Gen Z app, but No, no, I betcha. I bet the majority of people listening or watching the show right now actually have this on their phone, whether they’re an active user, whether they’re not. We all know it’s a pretty addictive app, but there’s some pretty interesting developments related to TikTok. Maybe you’ve heard that TikTok is a Chinese data collection app. It certainly is, but the United States government, or certain politicians in the United States government, are making an effort to actually ban TikTok. Now, going back just a little bit to the Trump administration, Trump had tried to force the parent company of TikTok, which is the Chinese company, the entity with ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
He had tried to force that parent company to divest of TikTok, maybe an American company, buy it so that American citizens who are using this app, their privacy wasn’t violated, and their data wasn’t collected the way it is now. That never happened. Biden became President before that was completed, and he rescinded all of that. So what I wanna talk about today is, first of all, this was my first question when I saw this, because it’s a bill introduced by Senator Marco Rubio and a couple of other people in Congress that would ban TikTok. My first question was, can they do this? Is this a constitutional thing for the legislature to do, just to ban an entity because they don’t want it an entity in our marketplace because they don’t like it, even if it’s a bad entity, which I think we all agree, TikTok is.
So I wanna examine that question, can the government ban TikTok? And if so, what’s the justification of that? And then of course, the secondary question is, if they can, should they? Is this a precedent that we want to set of the government picking and choosing different things in our free marketplace to get rid of or to prohibit just because some politicians don’t like it? So we’re gonna talk about that today and, and also talk a little bit about why this topic, TikTok, why this is one of the most important questions in our culture war right now. I always say, I’m gonna say it again, here we go. If we don’t acknowledge the reality of the political enemy we face, we will not fight well against it. If we don’t fight well against it, we won’t win. I want to win. So, whether or not you’re on TikTok yourself, this is a critically important couple of questions that we’re going to examine and some answers that I bet a lot of you who have TikTok on your phone right now, didn’t know, maybe you will actually get rid of this app after hearing it. So let’s dig into it.
So Senator Marco Rubio and a couple of other legislators introduced a bill into Congress that would ban TikTok. It would make it illegal for TikTok to operate in the United States. This is kind of a big deal, since there are a billion users of TikTok worldwide, 3 billion downloads of TikTok worldwide. That’s a lot of people. Obviously, most young people have TikTok, but a lot of parents have TikTok. A lot of millennials have TikTok. A lot of boomers even have TikTok, believe it or not. Yes, they do. So the reason Senator Marco Rubio introduced this, I wanna read just a little bit of the introduction of this bill so that you can understand his reasoning. He said, a bill to protect Americans from the threats posed by certain foreign adversaries using current or potential future social media companies that those foreign adversaries control to surveil Americans, learn sensitive data about Americans or spread influence campaigns, propaganda, or censorship.
Okay, well, those sound like pretty good reasons. To me. This comes on the heels, this is not the first government action taken against TikTok. This comes on the heels of some states across the nation. The most recent one being Colorado and I, I believe Alabama as well. The governor of Colorado, Spencer Cox and the governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, both banned TikTok, the app from any state-owned device. So any state employee who has issued a cell phone for work, you’re not allowed to download TikTok. You’re not allowed to have this app on state-owned devices. Because there’s widespread, actually bipartisan acknowledgement that TikTok poses a security threat to our nation, that it’s a, it’s a peephole for the spies in China. When I say bipartisan, I mean literally bipartisan. The Biden campaign before the 2020 election prohibited their campaign staffers from having TikTok on their phones.
Why? Because even the Biden campaign knew that TikTok was a Chinese spying app. Because when you download TikTok, so if you download any app, you have to give it permissions. You have to, a lot of times you have to give it access to your camera and to your microphone. If it’s a photo centric app, you sometimes have to give it access to your contacts. If you want it to suggest friends, there are a lot of permissions. Maybe you’re the same as me. You don’t always read the permissions because you know you’re gonna get the app, anyway. A lot of us are guilty of this, but TikTok takes it even a step further than Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or some of the more invasive social networking apps that do some data collection. Tiktok gives themselves, through this permission, access to everything on your phone.
I’m talking about all your texts, all your phone calls, all of your contacts, all of your apps, all of your activity on all of your apps. They basically grant themselves the permission, if you accept their app, if you download their app to snoop on every aspect of your phone. Even GPS, they can find out where you are pinging off your phone sometimes is often as every 30 minutes. This is much further, I think, than what a lot of Americans would be comfortable with. And I’m saying this from a standpoint of, especially the younger generation, millennials and Gen Z have gotten, we’ve gotten pretty comfortable with pretty significant violations of our privacy online. This is sort of what we’ve grown up with. Certainly, gen Z grew up with it. Millennials have experienced this since high school. If you wanna be online, you kind of say like, well, the Chinese, if they want my data, they’re gonna find it anyway, right?
This is actually something that I say to my mom and my grandmother when they worry about online security. I say, well, listen, if somebody wants to, wants to hack you, wants to get yourself, they’re going to, whether or not you are worried about it, whether or not you’re paranoid about things. If someone wants to get your stuff, they’re probably gonna figure out a way to get your stuff. I don’t, I say this to my own family members, but it’s not a good attitude. It’s not a good attitude to be so cavalier with surrendering our data, especially to an adversary that not just hypothetically could use this against us, but is actively waging information wars against us. So I wanna talk about what I mean by this a little bit, because even that’s vague, but also aside from Colorado or Alabama or the Biden campaign banning TikTok on their staffer’s phones, India also banned TikTok.
So it’s not just the United States that understands the reality of this political enemy behind TikTok, India said, nope, China, you’re not going to spy on our citizens. You’re not gonna wage influence campaigns through TikTok by collecting this immense amount of data and then leveraging it or weaponizing it against us. So as I mentioned, there are 1 billion active users on TikTok, 3 billion downloads. To me, that number’s a little bit hard to fathom. There’s no event, there’s no conglomeration of people where I can say, okay, that makes sense to me. A billion active users, that’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of people. And the average user opens the app, the TikTok app, guess how many times a day? Eight, eight times a day. The average user, these 1 billion users are getting on almost once an hour, almost once an hour during the workday.
And if you wanna talk about just the under 18 crowd, just basically the children who are on TikTok, the average amount of time in totality that children spend on TikTok, this is not just in the United States. This is all around the world. One hour and 15 minutes every single day spent on TikTok. Think about that. If you’re getting eight hours of sleep a night, then you have 16 hours of your day, and one hour and 15 minutes on average is spent on TikTok. That’s, I mean, it’s not only bad for children just to be on screens that much and to use social media. It also means that TikTok is a significant percentage of what’s going into their mind. What is forming these young children, right? And by the way, when I say this, I’m not just being an overprotective mom who’s not letting her child on screens.
No, no. Even China knows that this is extremely harmful for young people, extremely harmful. And I guess China’s probably not thinking about it from the individual sense that I’m thinking about it. China’s thinking about it from the collective sense like, oh, if this many individual children are harmed, it is going to have a collective result that’s going to be destructive for society as a whole, and therefore the country. So the Chinese version of the TikTok app is called Douyin, D-O-U-Y-I-N, Douyin. And according to the Times of Israel, some commentators, this is what the Times writes. Some commentators have also pointed the remarkable difference in terms of talk’s content in China and in the rest of the world. Allegedly, the TikTok or Douyin app promotes engineering and math in China while making youth in other countries addicted to twerking and porn.
Additionally, the Chinese version of TikTok implements stricter rules and prohibits deviant and anti-government discussions. For people under the age of 14. China limits the usage of the TikTok equivalent to 40 minutes a day and bans the app for these audiences between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM with a goal of inhibiting internet addiction. Now, I’m not endorsing China’s censoring deviant or anti-government discussions on TikTok. I’m not endorsing China being this overbearing big daddy government forcing children not to be on their phones between the hours of 10 and 6. That should be the role of the parents, not the role of the government. But the point of this is that the Chinese Communist Party understands the power of this app, how destructive it is to each individual, and the extent of damage it’s causing to each individual makes a collective difference to the overall society, culture, and really the longevity and character of the nation as a whole.
So that being established, I want to talk about this first question. If the United States government wants to ban TikTok, can they? Are they allowed to do this? Do they have the legal right to basically interfere in our free marketplace? Are they even allowed to do this? So this first question, can the government ban TikTok, the US government, can Congress legislatively ban this? If so, what would be the justification for this? Because the federal government can’t just ban things because politicians and office don’t like them. Imagine that for a second. Imagine if the Democrat politicians were like, Hey, we don’t want the, the, the youth reading George Orwell 1984, we don’t want them watching 1776. Politicians can’t just ban things. And this was a good thing. Politicians shouldn’t have control like that. Even if the things, and I know the books I mentioned and the movie that I mentioned are not harmful, but even if things are harmful to kids, the federal government still can’t ban them.
The federal government can’t say, Hey, you can’t feed your kid ice cream because that’s gonna make your kid fat, which is harming them and harming society. The government can’t do that. The federal government cannot do that. So the second question, should the government ban it? Let’s actually tackle that first before we get to the legality. Because in answering the second question, should the government ban it, it actually informs our answer about whether can the government ban it, whether or not they have the power to do that. So TikTok is owned by a company, the parent company is called ByteDance. BytedDnce is a Chinese own company, which has ties to the Chinese Communist Party, because what company in China doesn’t, they deny these ties. But you’d have to be naive. You’d have to be maybe a silly little Democrat,
I don’t know, not to believe this. Even the Democrats, I mean, maybe I’m not even giving them enough credit. The Biden campaign, I mean, you can’t get more bipartisan than a Republican introducing a bill to ban TikTok and a Democratic president during his campaign banning his staffers from downloading this app because it is a national security threat. There’s your bipartisanship right there. You wanna show us that you can work together? Okay, here you go. Here’s your opportunity. Get to it. Bytedance claims that all of these concerns that people have about the data or the data of American citizens being collected by China ByteDance claims that this concern is overblown because they say that the American version of the app, which is TikTok, the data from the American version of the app is either stored in America or in Singapore, that it’s not stored in mainland China.
They say that the Chinese version of the app is Douyin, that that data is stored in China. And to me, this is a pretty obvious diversionary tactic. This is, this is a deflection because it actually doesn’t matter where the data is stored. I mean, it’s the internet. You can access it from other places. In fact, most of what we access online is housed in servers all around the world. It’s not housed in server farms here in the United States. So this is a diversionary tactic, which has been proved to be a diversionary tactic because there’s been some whistleblowers from inside of TikTok in China that prove this wrong. But again, we have to back up just for a second here to understand why China engages in this lying in this case. Why is it in their interest to lie to us here?
Not just because they make money on TikTok, but why is it in their larger or their national interest? China’s national interest. So for that, we have to talk about the app itself. If you’ve ever opened TikTok, maybe some of you are like, girl, I just spent an hour on TikTok. You don’t need to tell me how this works. But it’s important to lay it out in the algorithmic way, not just the quote unquote user experience. So you open up TikTok and you have a page called a for you page. This is the equivalent of the homepage or your feed on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. On the for you page, there are videos that are supplied to you via an algorithm. Now, this algorithm supplies videos to you based on what your interests are. You pre-select interests when you sign up, and then it records what you like or what you don’t like from then on to suggest other things that you may or may not like.
The difference between talks For You Page and your Twitter feed, for example, is you can’t scroll away from the videos on TikTok that show up in your for you page. Again, a contrast here. II get on my Twitter account and I’m scrolling up my Twitter account and there’s stuff that I don’t care about, I just scroll right by it. I don’t have to interact with it. I don’t have to watch it. I don’t even really have to internalize it. I can just, you know, scroll past it. Same with Facebook, not so with TikTok. On TikTok, you have these videos that take up the entire screen and they auto play. So they start playing as soon as you’re on there. They don’t have the amount of time, meaning they don’t have the length of the video displayed. So it’s just a matter of whether second by second, this video holds your interest enough for you to continue watching. Or if you are not interested in it, then you just scroll to the next one. But you can only scroll one at a time. So you are experiencing at least the first probably three seconds of every single video that TikTok supplies to you.
So what you consume on TikTok every day, like what it means when you’re just lulling around on your phone on TikTok, you are consuming what TikTok presents to you, which means that you are consuming what bite dance, an entity tied to the Chinese Communist Party, presents to you. So that being established, this app has an incredible tracking mechanism to it. And when I say a tracking mechanism, their goal is to get to know you. Their goal is to understand what you want to watch, what you like, what you don’t like, to know what you will accept, even if you don’t physically like hit the like button. They wanna know what holds your interest. They want to know what you’re vulnerable to. They want to know what interests you. They call this the user experience, but that’s a very euphemistic term for what they’re doing here, because what they’re doing is they are creating this map of you so that once they understand you, how long you watch videos, what kind of videos you’re interested in, what kind of videos you will watch, even if you haven’t stated that you like it, they can then tailor the content specifically to you in order to try to inform you about whatever they want you to think.
And the danger there, the difference is that on Facebook or on Twitter or on Instagram, sure, there’s brainwashing content, there’s indoctrination content, but it’s not tailored to you the way that TikTok is. You are not required to consume content curated by Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, the way that every single user is required to consume TikTok-curated content. And this user experience, where you’re on this for you page, and you have to watch the first three seconds, every video. This is intended to foster compulsive use. And what I mean by that is not everything that you’re served on TikTok is something that you’re interested in. They don’t allow their algorithm to get to, not to get to know you, but to take what they know about you and serve you a hundred percent of videos that you’re interested in. No, they selectively serve you videos.
You’re interested in every few videos so that you’re constantly pursuing and seeking this dopamine rush. Because if you scroll through three or four videos you’re not interested in, and then you see one that does interest you, what happens in your brain? Well, you have a chemical release, this chemical release, this dopamine rush. And so then you scroll to another video and nope, doesn’t interest you. Next one nope. Doesn’t interest you until you’re craving that dopamine rush again. And so what this does is it, well, it fosters compulsive use, which again, this is, this is dangerous just from a developmental standpoint for young children. It’s an unhealthy circuit to create in a brain, but it’s also a carefully crafted structure intended to foster indoctrination.
So what’s not on TikTok? What is on TikTok? These two questions are really critical because what’s not on TikTok is criticism of the Chinese Communist Party. Anything negative about communism, anything making fun of Xi Jinping, nothing of that sort is allowed on TikTok. You’ll be banned like that if you criticize China in any way, shape or form. If you say anything pro-gay on TikTok, in countries where homosexuality is banned, you are also banned from TikTok. And yet, in America on TikTok, children and adolescents, teenagers and young adults are served propaganda from groomer teachers, who are teaching classrooms full of young children that sex is not correlated to gender. That is no such thing as the gender binary, that these teachers are non-binary, that you pick your pronouns, users are subject to Chinese Communist Party propaganda. And what I mean by that, I don’t mean that in a vague way.
I don’t mean that in just a catchall for something negative. Oh, it’s Chinese Communist propaganda. No. What does the Chinese Communist Party want? What is their goal, specifically their foreign policy goal when it comes to America, their goal is to subvert the United States. They want to be, the Chinese government wants to be the world’s superpower. They don’t want the United States to be the world’s superpower. And so they have this plan to try to subvert the United States from within because China’s patient. They have a 100 year plan, if you will, to subvert American culture, to cause America to fall, but from within. And so what do they do on TikTok? They serve to vulnerable youth content, this Marxist content, which is intended to so discord domestically in the United States to render the next generation of youth Marxist revolutionary so that the United States ceases to be a bastion of freedom, so that the Chinese Communist Party can supersede us.
And then, that’s not all, right? That’s not all. Then we get to exactly what this data collection that we always hear about. We constantly hear that TikTok is a Chinese data collection act, but what do they actually do? They don’t just capture your name and your birthdate and your location. They do, but it’s not just that. They actually track, even when you are not using TikTok over your entire phone, every app, everything you do on your phone, they track user keystrokes. They have access to the entirety of your phone. So every time you text your mom, you text your wife, you text your boyfriend, hopefully not the same person texting all three of those, everything that you do, every phone call that you make, every photo that you edit, every work email that you send, they’re tracking your keystrokes. And China, of course, well, I should say TikTok denies this, but Buzzfeed published an expose about the storage of this data.
I said before, even if this data is not stored in China, which was the denial of TikTok, oh, American data stored in America in Singapore, that doesn’t matter. That doesn’t mean that there’s not access to this data from people in China. And Chinese TikTok employee is actually have access to this. We know this, which means so does the Chinese Communist Party. So this is what Buzzfeed wrote, they said, for years, TikTok has responded to data privacy concerns by that information gathered about users in the United States is stored in the United States rather than China, where bite dance, the video platform’s parent company is located. But according to leaked audio from more than 80 internal TikTok meetings, China-based employees of bite dance have repeatedly accessed non-public data about US TikTok users, exactly the type of behavior that inspired former President Donald Trump to threaten to ban the app in the United States.
These recordings, which were reviewed by Buzzfeed News, contain 14 statements from nine different TikTok employees, indicating that engineers in China had access to US data between September of 2021 and January of 2022, at the very least. Despite a TikTok executive’s sworn testimony in an October, 2021 Senate hearing that a world renowned US-based security team decides who gets access to this data, nine statements by eight different employees describes situations where US employees had to turn to their colleagues in China to determine how US user data was flowing. US staff did not have permission or knowledge of how to access the data on their own. According to the tapes. Everything is seen in China set a member of talk’s, trust and safety department. In a September, 2021 meeting in another September meeting, a director referred to one Beijing based engineer as a master admin who quote has access to everything. End quote.
So that pretty much puts to bed any lingering doubt of whether China is accessing the data that they do collect. They are accessing it. So what exactly do they collect? I say keystrokes, but maybe to a lot of people, including me here, what does that mean? What are the implications of that? So a tech outlet by the name of Bored Panda published, actually a Reddit user who reverse engineered TikTok to see, look at the algorithm, see what it, what it’s doing, what it’s collecting, and when one, once it’s collected, what it’s doing with what it’s collected. Board Panda published some of this Reddit user’s, Reddit user’s findings after he reversed engineered it. And this is what the Reddit user’s name for anybody interested is Bangorlol. Bangorlol said, TikTok is a data collection service that is thinly veiled as a social network.
If there is an API to get information on you, your contacts or your device, well, they’re using it. Phone hardware, CPU type number of course, hardware, IDs, screen dimensions, DPI, memory usage, disk space, et cetera. Other apps you’ve installed, he says, I’ve even seen some I’ve deleted show up in their analytics payload, maybe using as cached value. Everything network related, IP, local IP, router, MAC address, Wi-Fi, access point name. How creepy is that? Whether or not you’re rooted or jailbroken. Some variants of the app had g p s pinging enabled at the time, roughly once every 30 seconds. This is enabled by default if you ever location tag a post, they set up a local proxy server on your device for transcoding media, but that could be abused very easily as it has zero authentication. Here’s the thing though, the Reddit user said. They don’t want you to know how much information they’re collecting on you and the security implications of all that data in one place en masse are huge for what it’s worth.
He says, I’ve reversed the Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter apps. They don’t collect anywhere near the same amount of data that TikTok does, and they sure as hell aren’t outright trying to hide exactly what’s being sent, like TikTok is, it’s like comparing a cup of water to the ocean. They just don’t compare. He said the short version of this is I’m a nerd who figures out how apps work for a job. Calling it an advertising platform is an understatement. TikTok is essentially malware that is targeting children. Don’t use TikTok, don’t let your family and friends use it.
That’s scary, huh? This is the thing. TikTok is waging, but the purpose of TikTok has always been to wage influence campaigns in the United States, and this is how they do it. They created an addictive app that fosters compulsive behavior, where you consume whatever content TikTok determines that you will consume, whether you are extremely vulnerable and they just throw it at you, like drinking out of a fire hose, whether it’s a drip, drip, drip of some kind of wokeism that eventually gets ingrained in your mind. They are influencing young people around the world one hour and 15 minutes a day out of perhaps 16 hours that young people are awake every day. So should the United States ban TikTok? The answer to that is obvious. Of course they should. So then we get back to our original question, can they, is it legal for the United States government, the federal government to ban this app to just decide that they don’t like something in our marketplace?
And you know, legislatively get rid of it legislatively. The answer is yes, it is constitutional under the commerce clause for the federal government to do this. The basic text of the Commerce Clause actually clearly covers foreign commerce. There is no constitutional right, whether explicit or implicit, you know, stated or not stated, that gives some kind of right to not just a foreign company, but a, a foreign entity tied to a hostile foreign government, just the right to infiltrate the American tech industry. There’s no right that would prohibit Congress from banning it. This is not an American company. This is a foreign company, and that is a very critical difference. So legislatively, it’s inarguable that Congress has a right to do this. In fact, they should do this. It will be very interesting to see who is willing to do this, who is perhaps bought off by the Chinese Communist Party or too cowardly to go through with this, but it should be a bipartisan thing.
So that’s, that’s the first thing. Legislatively, absolutely the United States Congress can do this. There’s another way that this can happen. There’s another way that TikTok can be removed or banned, or prohibited from use in the United States. And that is via a committee called CIFIUS. No, it’s not syphilis. It’s CIFIUS, C-I-F-I-U-S. It stands for Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Maybe you’ve never heard of it. A lot of people haven’t. It’s kind of a secretive committee, meaning how they deliberate, how they vote, and on what grounds they make their decisions is never made public. It’s something that is, I suppose classified, but really secret because of the implications to foreign policy, because of the national security implications. I think while it’s hard for me ever to make an argument for a lack of transparency in the United States government because I don’t trust the people that work in the United States government, but the only justification for the American people not to be allowed to know what’s happening in the government or how our government officials are making decisions or what their ultimate decisions are and what they’re based on.
The only justification for that, of course, is national security interests or a threat to national security. And that’s the same with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States or CIFIUS. This committee, its purpose, obviously, is to review the national security implications of companies that are owned by foreigners, operated from countries outside of the United States, or any US company that has a foreign investor who is a large part of that company. And this committee is, I wanna say it’s not actually part of the Department of the Treasury, but it is chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury. So it falls under the helm of the Treasury here. CIFIUS is a conglomeration, it’s an inter-agency committee. Again, all this swamp stuff, I’m fundamentally skeptical of it, but in this case could be useful.
It’s an inter-agency committee. It has representatives from 16 different departments and agencies. This is like the Department of Defense, the Department of State the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Commerce in, in addition, obviously to the Secretary of the Treasury. It’s been around since 1975. It was established by Gerald Ford. Again, a little history just so you understand the implications of this, a lot of what CIFIUS does at this point in modern America is analyzed China’s investment in companies in the United States try to prevent the Chinese from infiltrating the United States. So an example of this is Huawei when, when Huawei was trying to infiltrate the 5G infrastructure of, or the plan for 5G infrastructure in the United States CIFIUS got involved and band Bann Huawei from being allowed to do that on the basis that it was problematic from a national security standpoint.
That was obviously the right move. It wasn’t controversial except for politicians who are buddy-buddy with the Chinese Communist Party. So CIFIUS is another way that TikTok could be prohibited from operating in the United States. In fact, the US Department of Treasury said that at one point TikTok was under review by CIFIUS. But that is clearly not led to the prohibition here, but it should lead to the prohibition. There was actually a great analogy that was written by Matt Yglesias. This was on his Substack, and I want to read this to you because I don’t think a better analogy has been made to describe why it’s so obvious that TikTok should be banned and why in the history of our country, this would’ve been a no-brainer. He writes, this level of cultural power, meaning the influence that TikTok has over our country is comparable to, if the Soviet Union had decided to plow some of its oil export profits into buying up broadcast television stations across the United States, I thought this is one of the most apropos analogies that I’ve ever heard, because we would never have allowed that to happen.
That would’ve been a no-brainer. We would’ve been like, no, the socialist Russians aren’t going to run our mainstream media. They’re not going to run our broadcast stations. Of course not. It should likewise be a no-brainer for either CIFIUS or for the United States Congress to ban TikTok. TikTok is an influence operation. They are trying to sow social discord. They are trying to compromise young people in America, this 1 billion active users around the world. This is not a small pocket of people who are being influenced. This is an entire generation of people who are being indoctrinated by TikTok, by the Chinese Communist Party. And the Chinese Communist Party’s not indoctrinating just by saying, oh, China’s great, or Xi Jinping is, you know, whatever they call Xi Jinping, the ruler of our land? No, no. They’re trying to compromise children in the way that we talk about all the time, the Marxist assault on our children, whether it’s Critical Race Theory, whether it’s queer theory, whether it’s sexual promiscuity, these ways that you destroy the nuclear family by destroying each element of the nuclear family, whether it’s gender, whether it’s marriage, whether it’s sex, whether it’s morals, objective, truth, reality, religion.
These are all the things, the values and the principles that are under attack on TikTok. But it’s not overt. It’s not a political argument that’s being made. It’s entertainment content that becomes embedded in the thought processes and the worldview of these children, their own self-image, their perception of reality. The Chinese Communist Party is warping and twisting American’s perception of reality in a way that will cause the downfall of the United States. Of course, TikTok should be banned. And this, by the way, this is not a particularly easy topic to talk about because so many of us are on TikTok. I’m not. But this is a conversation that we have among our team members. Often we’ve wrestled with the question on this show, how do we handle whether or not I should be on TikTok? I’m on Instagram, I’m on Facebook, I’m on YouTube, I’m on Rumble, I’m on Locals, all these social platforms.
The purpose of being on those social platforms is to connect with you. And part of me is like, well, I don’t wanna be part of a Chinese Communist party influence operation, this propaganda platform. But at the same time, I don’t wanna be tracked, either. At the same time, TikTok is influencing our culture, maybe more than anything else in our nation. And if we don’t counter that, how will that influence operation be stopped? If we don’t fight in that culture war, the only way to stop it is for the United States government to ban it. So should TikTok be banned in the United States? Absolutely, yes. Tell your Congress member, tell your Senator. Thank you for watching. Thank you for listening. I’m Liz Wheeler. This is The Liz Wheeler Show.