What’s happening: Republican Sen. Marco Rubio announced bipartisan legislation that would ban TikTok in America, citing security concerns over the Chinese app. It presents the first real opportunity to ban the social platform since former President Donald Trump’s unsuccessful efforts in 2020.
Why it matters: Last month, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned state governments that the Chinese government uses TikTok to collect data on Americans and could manipulate the content algorithm to run influence or propaganda operations on the American public. TikTok promoted the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and helped Democrats in midterm elections.
Poison algorithm for children: Twenty-five percent of the 65 million Americans using TikTok are between the ages of 10 and 19. In America, TikTok’s Chinese-controlled algorithm promotes sexual content, drugs, and alcohol to children. In China, TikTok usage for children is limited to only 40 minutes per day and shows children science experiments, educational videos, and patriotic content.
States have been acting: Even before bipartisan legislation arrived in Congress, many states had begun prohibiting the use of TikTok on state government devices and computers, including Texas, Maryland, South Dakota, Alabama, and Utah. India already banned TikTok two years ago, citing similar concerns.
What happens next?
Though many different federal institutions, like the Federal Communications Commission and the Pentagon, support a TikTok ban, there’s not much they can do. An executive order from President Joe Biden wouldn’t be enough either. Congress would need to pass legislation, and some analysts think it’s an uphill battle.