The ability to freely scroll is the ability to freely speak

In March 2024, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce advanced a bill calling for TikTok to cut ties with its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, within six months, or face a full-scope ban in the U.S.

In Congress, discussions surrounding the potential ban of TikTok have intensified as legislators grapple with the implications of allowing ByteDance to operate on American soil. Evidence of action to ban TikTok can be seen in the proposals by congressmen — including those of Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) — which include bills aimed at restricting the use of Chinese-owned apps in the U.S.

The idea of banning TikTok is a serious concern. As discussions rage on, the fate of TikTok hangs in the balance, and millions of users and creators are left in limbo.

While there are concerns about Americans’ data being in the hands of a foreign government, they are nothing more than speculation. It is more important to understand the impending threat of a blanket ban. Not only would outlawing the app violate the principles of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but it would also set a dangerous precedent for government overreach and censorship.

Freedom of speech and free expression without censorship are threatened if TikTok is banned.

For a democratic society that values freedom of expression, individuals should have the right to share their thoughts and feelings without fear of government intervention. By banning the social media platform, the government would be infringing on the rights of millions of users who rely on it to connect with others and express themselves.

Furthermore, TikTok has become a powerful tool for marginalized communities to amplify their voices and share their stories; banning it would diminish their influence.

“In June 2020, TikTok became a hub for Black Lives Matter protests,” Abbie Richards, TikTok user @tofology and an educator on misinformation, said in a TikTok video. “From bomb shelters in Ukraine to protests in Iran, TikTok became a space for virtual activism driven by firsthand accounts from people affected by political issues.”

Such a ban on the application would limit Americans’ exposure to the diversity of perspectives and experiences that are essential for a vibrant and inclusive public discourse.

Though concern is valid, the argument that TikTok poses a significant national security threat lacks concrete evidence.

According to cybersecurity experts at ABC News, there is little evidence that TikTok has shared U.S. user data with the Chinese government. While it is important to remain vigilant about potential risks associated with foreign- owned apps, the blanket banning of TikTok solely on the grounds of national security is a disproportionate response.

It is essential to recognize that the right to free speech and expression is a cornerstone of democracy and must be upheld even in the face of complex challenges like data privacy and national security. Erasing TikTok would set a dangerous standard for government overreach and censorship, undermining the principles of individual liberties fundamental to a democratic society.

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