Recently, CBS’s “60 Minutes” labeled the Chinese communist application TikTok as “toxic.” The expert interviewed explained that the TikTok is available to Chinese children under age 14 with a viewing time limit of 45 minutes. The app pushes all kinds of science and experiments they can do at home. Anything that smacks of feminine men is censored.
“It is almost like they [the Chinese] recognize that technology’s influencing kids’ development and they make their [China’s] domestic version a spinach version of TikTok, while they ship the opium version to the rest of the world,” the commentator said. The “version served to the West has kids hooked for hours at a time,” he continued.
And this appeal to youth makes the app the perfect vehicle for influencing elections — and thus a national security issue. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri stated, “TikTok and their Chinese parent company present a serious national security threat, but Joe Biden continues to dither as they gobble up Americans’ personal information.”
Despite bipartisan warnings of the national security threat of TikTok, Biden and the Democrats have strengthened ties with the app, which now has the potential to influence the midterm elections by funneling TikTok-obsessed youth toward certain causes and platforms.
The red flag I see in many of our close elections this year is the closeness between certain Democrats and the Chinese-owned TikTok. Biden’s tryst with the app is long standing. Many of the White House guests are TikTok influencers. The app is also now one of the main sources where Americans get their news. Together they have been targeting young American voters. Young voters are easier to propagandize and persuade.
TikTok has built profiles of young American viewers and has a powerful algorithm to identify impressionable youth, who can be mobilized for political purposes. TikTok demonstrated its ability to influence our political processes when the social media company promoted a video to millions of American youth to explain how to falsely request tickets to one of Trump’s first rallies after the COVID scare.
Readers may recall AOC (Sandy Cortez) thanked TikTok and mocked Trump’s failure to fill the stadium because of the thousands of TikTok users who had bogusly applied for tickets. Ultimately, TikTok caters to the youth vote – as does the Democrats’ messaging.
Republicans are puzzled at Biden’s illegal and unconstitutional action to declare all student loans forgiven and pardon marijuana users (even though no-one was released from prison). The claims that abortion will be outlawed and democracy will end should Republicans be elected this year seem over-the-top. But all these deceitful proclamations are designed to motivate the youth and turn out Democrat votes, particularly in cities.
Meanwhile, Chinese-owned TikTok pushes these messages to its pre-targeted young American audience while pushing very different messaging in China. Meanwhile, conservative accounts were suspended, leading to suspicions that Beijing was involved. China has also recruited influencers in the West to shore up its image and influence policy abroad. Given TikTok’s connections and data-sharing with the Chinese government, its activities should be considered foreign interference in our elections.
Although China is subverting our elections and our Republic, Democrats don’t seem to care – in fact, many have embraced TikTok despite the security risks and potential for foreign interference. If Republicans did this, they would be accused of colluding with China through TikTok. Merrick Garland would already have indicted members of the board of TikTok and President Donald Trump. Yet there is not so much as an investigation into the Democrat use of TikTok.
If the roles were reversed, Democrats would have filed a complaint and taken TikTok to court. But not Republicans. Republicans don’t even protect their whistleblowers. Republicans run from them.
Rep. Jim Jordan has his hands full and, even if he finds clear evidence of a crime, the partisan DOJ, which is fully compromised because its hiring practices instituted under Eric Holder, is unwilling to prosecute. McConnell and McCarthy, meanwhile, seem completely oblivious to the threat.
Even today, after substantial interference in our elections has been evidenced, Republican policies reflect a fear of the press rather than fighting for America. It’s time to hold TikTok and the Democrats’ embrace of the app accountable.
Steve Stockman served as a representative for Texas’ 9th and 36th congressional districts