Marco Rubio attacks Val Demings for campaigning on social media
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) recently launched an attack against his Democratic opponent Val Demings, who appears to be using TikTok as a driving force for campaign fundraising.
On Wednesday, July 20, Rubio released a new online ad for his re-election campaign. According to NBC News, Rubio focused on highlighting the contrast between "his anti-communist bonafides with the Demings campaign's prolific use of the wildly popular social media app, which is owned by a Chinese company." The lawmaker shared his perspective amid the rise in concerns about possible private user data mining.
In response to the attack from Rubio, Demings' spokesman Christian Slater defended her use of the social media platform as he noted that it is a viable way for her to connect with voters.
“We are on TikTok for one simple reason: That’s where the voters are,” Christian Slater, a Demings spokesman, said. “The Demings campaign is working relentlessly to meet voters wherever they are, in person or online, in our fight to defeat career politician Marco Rubio.”
However, Rubio argues otherwise. The Republican senator, who also serves as vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and as a Foreign Relations Committee senior member, argues that Demings' decision to use the social platform is "irresponsible, considering her positions on the House Homeland Security and Intelligence committees."
His spokesperson also echoed similar arguments.
“Val Demings should know better. Every time Demings shares a TikTok, she encourages Americans to use a platform that leaves their personal information more vulnerable to China,” said Elizabeth Gregory. “Meanwhile, Marco Rubio has been calling for action and highlighting the serious threat to personal privacy and U.S. national security TikTok poses.”
“As with any kind of algorithmic-based social media platform, there is the potential to inject narratives of strategic consequence to the CCP [Chinese Communist Party], or that benefit particular political candidates in the United States,” Fedasiuk said.
Despite the concerns and political debates about possible cyber breaches and data mining, Adam Segal, director of Digital and Cyberspace Policy for the Council on Foreign Relations, explained why China doesn't necessarily need TikTok to access American citizens' data.
“Nobody has shown why making a funny video or the data that comes from it is a national security risk. … I don’t think it’s a huge threat,” he said. “When it comes to a U.S. politician or important businessperson, the Chinese are going to target that person through so many more effective ways than through TikTok.”
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