You may recall Montana’s controversial move to ban TikTok in May of this year. It was widely regarded as silly and reactionary then and is still largely treated as such.
So, what better way for Virginia conservatives to waste their time and our tax dollars than to dive headlong into Montana’s defense?
Well, our attorney general sure seems to think so. Virginia is at the head of a group of attorneys general who issued a court filing to back Montana’s ban on the app.
This is little more than blatant fearmongering harkening back to the red scare and the infamous run of McCarthyism that captured the nation at the height of the Cold War. If you think that’s a stretch, just read this quote from the collective of 18 state attorneys general, led by Virginia’s very own, which details their rationale for the move: “…Because TikTok intentionally engages in deceptive business practices which induce individuals to share sensitive personal information that can be easily accessed by the Chinese Communist Party and because TikTok’s platform harms children in Montana.”
Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that every other social media platform is data mining its users, so much so that there are actually tutorials instructing business owners on how to most effectively data mine users. Obviously, this is not great, but why is it okay if American companies do it and “Communism” if Chinese companies do?
Right, right, I said, let’s set that aside. That’s probably for the best cause I can feel my blood pressure rising.
Look, there are legitimate concerns about TikTok’s practices and the accessibility of problematic content. I don’t want to overlook that, especially since I’m not much of a fan of the app myself. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be banned. Perhaps regulated, but banning it is nothing more than pandering to a base that still believes Communists are hiding among us, ready to whisk our kids away and gift them to Karl Marx’s undead army of propagandists.
The main concern with TikTok is transparency, which, fine, that makes sense. But ByteDance, the company that owns and operates the app, has already proposed a solution: Project Texas is a proposal that would “move U.S. data into a third-party cloud infrastructure to create more transparency and security. Only a team of U.S. residents would have access to that user data.” That seems pretty sensible, so why haven’t we pursued it?
Because simple answers eliminate the chance for pandering and fearmongering, necessary tools for conservatives to whip up a frenzy amongst their base. And who doesn’t love a good frenzy?
Who knows where this is actually going. I sincerely doubt that America, capitalist bastion it is, would ever truly go after a private company in this way. One can hope it would set a precedent to regulate these unaccountable and untouchable corporations, but I won’t be holding my breath.