How a TikTok ban could actually benefit China: WaPo editorial board

How a TikTok ban could actually benefit China: WaPo editorial board

The Washington Post's editorial board published an op-ed Thursday warning President Joe Biden's administration to reconsider banning the widely used social media giant, TikTok.

This comes as TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified in a congressional hearing — also on Thursday — which, according to the board, "at times seemed more like performance art than serious legislative oversight."

The Post says in the op-ed, although Biden's approach to pursuing a ban is "more coherent and convincing than" former President Donald Trump's in 2020, the president should still be wary of the possible backlash.

READ MORE: Ted Cruz: Conversation with Elon Musk lays out 'road map' to 'go after' Big Tech

Regarding "what could happen" following a ban, the editorial board writes:

President Xi Jinping's regime could request specific data on sensitive individuals to blackmail them or a trove of information on a vast array of users to glean some knowledge about the rising generation. The Chinese Communist Party could pressure the company to censor material that paints it in a poor light or promote posts that serve its interests — including, say, to manipulate a U.S. election in favor of a preferred candidate.

The board mentions the bipartisan The Restrict Act proposed by U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and John Thune (R-S.D.), and its purpose to "authorize the Commerce Department to mitigate the risks posed by certain foreign-owned products, or force divestiture or prohibit them if mitigation isn't sufficient to address the threat," can be considered necessary — but just as needed as "transparency provisions that would encourage the national security community to justify whatever steps the administration may take."

The board writes:

Cutting off a service that 150 million people in this country use, whether to watch lip-syncing videos, hype their small businesses or share news, might look like a blow to China in the short run. Yet it would be a victory for that country's philosophy of techno-nationalism and a defeat for an open world and open web. If the White House does try to ban TikTok, it will owe citizens — users of the platform and non-users alike — a good explanation.

READ MORE: 'Misreading the room by a mile': TikTok CEO defends app amid allegations that it spied on journalists

According to Reuters, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned Congress not to ban the app, "saying it would violate the free speech rights of millions of Americans."

After all, in its op-ed, the editorial board emphasized, for years, "the United States has rightly prided itself on its openness to free trade and free expression alike."

READ MORE: Trump threatens to ban popular social media app TikTok 'with an executive order'

The Washington Post's Editorial Board's full op-ed is available at this link (subscription required). Reuters' report is here.

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