‘I think Donald Trump was right, I mean, TikTok is an enormous threat.”
That was Sen. Mark Warner — a Democrat — talking about the popular Chinese-owned social media app. Warner, along with an increasing number of national security experts, says that the innocuous-seeming video-sharing service poses the dangers to national security that Trump warned about years ago.
“The ability for China to have undue influence is, I think, a much greater challenge and a much more immediate threat than any kind of actual, armed conflict,” Warner said.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress earlier this month that he’s “extremely concerned” about TikTok’s threat.
“Under Chinese law, Chinese companies are required to essentially — and I’m going to shorthand here — basically do whatever the Chinese government wants them to do in terms of sharing information or serving as a tool of the Chinese government,” Wray said.
Last week, the FCC banned China’s Huawei and ZTE Gear because those could spy on military sites. Before that, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr called for a ban on TikTok.
Even the reliably liberal NPR is suddenly starting to sound Trumpian on this issue, noting that “there are concerns about China’s ruling Communist Party using this broad authority to gather sensitive intellectual property, proprietary commercial secrets and personal data.”
None of this is new. In 2019, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton wrote a bipartisan letter to intelligence officials saying they should investigate TikTok’s national security risks. In 2020, the Defense Department recommended that military personnel delete the app, and several military branches banned it. Trump tried to get the service banned in the U.S. or force its sale to a U.S. company.
But instead of listening to these concerns, President Joe Biden has been playing footsie with TikTok to score political advantages.
In fact, just weeks before Wray and Warner raised the threat level, Biden brought TikTok “influencers” into the White House to enlist them to help Democrats avoid defeat in the midterm elections.
Rob Flaherty, the White House director of digital strategy, told the Washington Post that “we know people listen to trusted messengers, and as an increasing number of young people turn to Instagram, TikTok and other platforms for news and information, we need to engage with the voices they trust directly.”
This was hardly the first time Biden has turned to TikTok for help.
“Despite repeated bipartisan warnings about the national security risks of TikTok, the administration continues to make use of the Chinese-owned social networking app,” noted RealClearPolitics.
Back in August 2021, for example, the White House let a moronic TikTok “influencer” who goes by “Benny Drama” video his day at the White House as part of Biden’s push to get people vaccinated (see the picture above).
This March, “National Security Council staffers gathered 30 influential TikTok stars on a Zoom call to receive guidance and information about the unfolding war in Ukraine and the rising cost of energy,” according to Newsweek.
In September, Biden met with more than two dozen TikTok “influencers” to promote his “Inflation Reduction Act.”
Sen. Marco Rubio says that the White House is playing “a dangerous game” for short-term political gain.
“By giving TikTok ‘influencers’ the platform of White House visits and creating content, Biden is signaling to the world he believes it is safe to use an app beholden to Beijing,” he told RealClearPolitics.
This all comes at a time when the Biden administration — after scuttling Trump’s efforts to get the service banned in the U.S. — has reportedly struck a preliminary agreement with TikTok “on safeguards that would satisfy the Biden administration.”
What could that possibly mean? And why would anyone want to trust Biden’s word that’s he’s actually secured any meaningful national security protections, much less anything that China won’t immediately cheat on?
Biden has been sleeping with TikTok for so long now that he’d likely agree to anything to keep it in business here. Even if that means sacrificing national security interests to serve his political ambitions.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board
Obvious redundant question.