Cybersecurity experts have said TikTok's potential risk to national security is largely theoretical and that there is no evidence to suggest that the app's user data has been compromised by Chinese intelligence. President Trump arrives at a campaign rally at the BOK Center, June 20, 2021 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
He and other officials have cited national security concerns for doing this, publicly expressing worry that the Chinese-owned company will share user data with the Chinese government. But what if there’s another reason why Trump wants to turn off TikTok, something driven not by high-minded policy but by something as simple as hurt feelings.
A theory explaining all this has quietly and persistently circulated among Takeovers since the ban was first discussed a few weeks ago: What if this has nothing to do with China, nothing to do with national security? The event was supposed to mark a return to the campaign assemblies that the president covets, a comeback show of force with nearly 20,000 people in attendance after months of COVID-19 lockdown.
Theoretically, it would give the Trump campaign false hopes for a large crowd leading up to the event and make them look foolish when it was sparsely attended. Televised broadcasts showed Trump at a podium framed by large swaths of empty blue seats.
The online campaign against him had worked, though Lapp and other Takeovers are fully aware that their efforts aren’t the only reason that attendance was low. Now, here’s where things get interesting: About two weeks later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the first Trump official to talk publicly about a possible TikTok ban.
Previously, different branches of the armed forces had banned it from government-issued phones, and a couple Republican senators had been vocal about their concerns over TikTok, including Missouri’s Josh Hawley and Florida’s Marco Rubio. But it would’ve been impossible for him not to know about it after Tulsa with the rally’s disappointing turnout linked to TikTok by outlets that Trump obsessives over: CNN, The New York Times NYT, Civic.
And, thus, in a matter of weeks, TikTok went from the object of ire for a few conservative senators eager for a bit of spotlight to being identified by the White House as a large national security threat that necessitated quick action. “If TikTok goes down, it was fun while it lasted, and we did get to stick it to Donald Trump,” says Sawyer McMuffin, a rising junior at the University of South Carolina.
TikTok ’s silence, when other social platforms have been comparatively keen to shout quickly and loudly that Trump is not welcome after he incited a riotous crowd to storm the Capitol, makes business sense. Announcing any kind of ban would risk the ire of a notoriously tetchy president at a time when the company is in litigation with the federal government.
Announcing he was welcome would mean stepping out of line with the overwhelming majority of social media, which, by a miraculous coincidence, have all recognized that a man who has spent the past five years spewing toxic hate speech is a threat, right as he loses the ability to regulate them. The video-sharing application is, as The New York Times put it, rewriting the world due to its huge popularity with young people.
The TikTok teens” have made a real name for themselves, but at the same time, Donald Trump ’s Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said in an interview this week that the U.S. is “looking at” banning the app. © Provided by The Mary Sue An Indian mobile user browses through the Chinese owned video-sharing 'TikTok' app on a smartphone in Bangalore on June 30, 2021.
(Of note, there are similar, very valid fears about Russian data mining associated with another trendy application: Face.) TikTok ’s privacy risks and the links to China have been enough to get the application banned in other countries, most recently India.
Donald Trump and his administration are not friendly towards China at all, nor have they been supportive of Hong Kong as Beijing has expanded control over the city via recently instituted national security laws. TikTok just pulled out of Hong Kong in light of recent events,” meaning the new national security law.
Twitter said it was taking action against tweets that violated its rules and that it was “significantly restricting engagement with Tweets labeled under our Civic Integrity Policy due to the risk of violence.” The company placed a temporary lock on Trump ’s account on Wednesday evening and has threatened a permanent suspension if he violates its rules again. Trump returned to Twitter Thursday evening, promising a smooth transition of power to the Biden administration.