The liberal New York Times just made what must’ve sounded like a shocking confession to its readers.
“Donald Trump was right, and the Biden administration should finish what he started,” wrote columnist Ezra Klein.
The Times spent the duration of the Trump presidency slamming his every move. If Trump did it… it had to be wrong, was the common liberal logic that extended far beyond the Times.
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But Klein now admits Trump was right on one key issue that was widely ridiculed at the time – but now, in hindsight, looks increasingly important.
“TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company,” Klein wrote this week. “And Chinese companies are vulnerable to the whims and the will of the Chinese government.”
The social media service is today best known for viral clips of customer service encounters gone wrong, dancing youths, and boneheaded “challenges” like taking so much Benadryl that you hallucinate.
But it has an even darker side that Trump saw when he issued an executive order demanding that the service be sold to a U.S. company or face potential restrictions, including a U.S. ban.
The administration was especially concerned over how the company collected and used data on the Americans who downloaded and used the app, its potential for use in government and corporate espionage, and the ability of the Chinese Communist Party to censor anything on the platform that it doesn’t like.
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Klein writes that the last part has turned out to be vitally important.
“A few weeks ago, I gave a lecture at a Presbyterian college in South Carolina, and asked some of the students where they liked to get their news,” he wrote. “Almost every one said TikTok.”
In his 2020 executive order, Trump noted that Communist leaders could use TikTok for “disinformation campaigns,” and specifically cited how it “spread debunked conspiracy theories about the origins of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.”
Trump noted that it wasn’t just his administration that was concerned.
Corporate America was already taking actions to stop the use of the platform on company-owned devices over concerns of blackmail and espionage.
“American companies and organizations have begun banning TikTok on their devices,” Trump wrote. “The United States must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security.”
Yet the notion of TikTok as a national security threat was dismissed and widely mocked at the time.
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Now, as Klein notes, Trump’s move is looking increasingly prescient – except President Joe Biden reversed the executive order and replaced it with a weaker one of his own.
And that means the company – and the app – may continue to grow unchecked within the United States.
Columnist Matthew Yglesias wrote in his Slow Boring newsletter that China’s hidden control over TikTok is akin to a Soviet-era leader buying up U.S. TV stations.
“The F.C.C. wouldn’t have let them. And if the F.C.C. for some reason did let them, the Commerce Department would have blocked it,” he wrote. “And if a judge said the Commerce Department was wrong and control over the information ecosystem didn’t meet the relevant national security standard, Congress would have passed a new law.”
Instead, the TikTok problem is going largely ignored – and the service keeps growing.
“In 2021, it had more active users than Twitter, more U.S. watch minutes than YouTube, more app downloads than Facebook, more site visits than Google,” noted Klein.
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With more users, and more people turning to it for news, TikTok could turn out to be a leading concern heading into this year’s midterm elections and into 2024 – not to promote Democrats or Republicans.
But the masked agenda of the Chinese Communist Party.
— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert.