Oh, what we’ll miss once government bans TikTok

December 22, 2022 6:00 am
An aesthetician places wax on a man's brown

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You can call me a proponent of social media, although I’ll readily admit I don’t use the various options with great frequency. If not for my profession, I probably wouldn’t post more than the occasional family picture or a cheer/rant about my favorite sports teams. 

Still, I see the value and appeal of being on Facebook, Instagram and even Twitter despite Elon Musk’s attempts to hasten its path toward insolvency and disreputation. It can be fun and – if you stick to reputable sources – informative.

This is why I have mixed feelings about TikTok being placed in the cancellation crosshairs by government officials who fear the application is a national security threat. FBI director Christopher Wray told a congressional panel last month its Chinese owner ByteDance could weaponize the data it collects from the app and potentially influence behavior. 

This sounds strikingly similar to past concerns over legacy social media platforms based in the United States, yet there have been no widespread efforts to ban them like we’re seeing with TikTok. Attempts to regulate them at the federal level, as with most billion-dollar enterprises, have been half-hearted at best.    

Because you’re unable to pin blame on Donald Trump’s loss on septuagenarian poll commissioner subterfuge, then TikTok must be the big bad villain, right?

Full disclosure: I have a personal TikTok account and have posted a grand total of one video – my daughter dancing in the rain. She has issued an edict to me that I not post any such videos of myself, lest she endure eternal tween embarrassment. 

As far as influencing my behavior, I will admit that I jumped on the tomato and feta pasta trend on TikTok. It’s one of several culinary tips I’ve gleaned from the app, which for me is largely an outlet to vicariously explore interests and hobbies I don’t have the time or resources to pursue in real life. Like through-hiking the Appalachian Trail, for example. 

I don’t want to downplay the security risk social media poses to myself and the government, but the same Chinese hackers with access to TikTok are no doubt targeting our homegrown platforms. Plus, there are undoubtedly domestic digital terrorists up to the same dastardly deeds.

That’s why the political outrage as of late over TikTok seems somewhat disingenuous to me. Claims that it has the potential to put elections at risk are suspect, given the pattern of baseless fraud allegations that have thrived since the 2020 presidential election. 

Because you’re unable to pin blame on Donald Trump’s loss on septuagenarian poll commissioner subterfuge, then TikTok must be the big bad villain, right? It has all the feel of an old James Bond movie plot; remember Nick Nack from “The Man with the Golden Gun” from 1974?

As state-level bans on TikTok trickle outward to include the federal government, I can’t help but wonder what video gems we’ll miss out on. Maybe President Joe Biden has a homemade ice cream recipe to share, or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to attempt the Sprite challenge. Who else thinks hirsute U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, should start the congressional Face Wax Challenge?

Caution is warranted with TikTok, as it should be with all social media outlets. But let’s tamp down the supposed outrage unless we’re all prepared to revive our MySpace accounts.


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Greg LaRose
Greg LaRose

Greg LaRose has covered news for more than 30 years in Louisiana. Before coming to the Louisiana Illuminator, he was the chief investigative reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans. He previously led the government and politics team for The Times-Picayune |, and was editor in chief at New Orleans CityBusiness. Greg's other career stops include Tiger Rag, South Baton Rouge Journal, the Covington News Banner, Louisiana Radio Network and multiple radio stations.