As of this writing, the U.S. Congress and many State legislatures are currently debating whether to ban the popular social media app TikTok–not just from government-issued devices, but outright! But did you know that access to TikTok is already being blocked at such major research universities like the University of Texas (since January of this year; see here) and at all the public universities in the “Free State” of Florida, including my home institution the University of Central Florida. (The Florida Board of Governors, which is responsible for the management of the public universities in the state, enacted Emergency Regulation 3.0075 on data security at the end of March, and now all persons are prohibited from using public university Wi-Fi networks in Florida to access TikTok; see, for example, this report in The Gainesville Sun.) Although I can appreciate the data privacy and national security hysteria that is ostensibly motivating these drastic anti-TikTok actions, to my classical liberal mind these draconian measures not only constitute an unlawful abridgement of speech rights; they smack of pure sinophobia and moral panic.
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While the right-wing anti-China crowd might be the most obvious faction in the ban Tik-Tok Coalition, there are peripheral interests move the needle on this one.
The ease that content creators can monetize their indie brand of entertainment is effectively a decentralization of the entertainment (music, film, television). Considering Gen-Z’s fixation with the social media application, tinsel town and major record companies may have some stiff competition.
Also, the political elites don’t like how quickly information is disseminated through the app.
There is a reason why restricting Tik-Tok as bipartisan support in this hyperpolarized political climate.
let’s see if they ban the god-awful Facebook next