There is a growing, bipartisan chorus of politicians and experts who are speaking out against TikTok after a new report from Forbes declared that accounts, run by communist China’s state-run media, are surreptitiously trying to influence American politics.
Some saw it as a deeply important cultural issue, given TikTok’s appeal to the young. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas called the app an effort to “corrupt young Americans and teach them to hate their country.”
MediaLinks TV, which as Forbes noted, is “a registered foreign agent and Washington D.C.-based outpost of the main Chinese Communist Party television news outlet” has been using the account @NewsTokks, among others, to make TikTok videos attacking politicians (mostly Republicans), including Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, as well as Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
MediaLinks TV has also been using its TikTok accounts to critique the United States on race relations and gun control. On TikTok, it’s not entirely clear that the commentary is coming from a foreign state.
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TikTok’s scrolling mechanism is “like a slot machine,” said Dr. Boxer Wachler. (Getty Images) (Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
In a statement, Sen. Rubio told Fox News Digital that “it is laughable that TikTok, an app that I have been warning about for years, allowed a foreign smear campaign to run against me unaddressed.” He added that the app’s “gimmick” proves “TikTok needs to divest itself of any Chinese ownership or influence whatsoever or be banned from operating in the United States.”
Talking to Fox News Digital, Senator Cruz said, “TikTok is used by the Chinese Communist Party for spying and propaganda…. It is long past time for the U.S. to take action against it.”
Gordon Chang, the author of The Coming Collapse of China backed the findings in the Forbes report in an interview with Fox News Digital.
“This is Beijing trying to influence American politics. TikTok [is] a dagger pointed at the heart of the United States,” he said.
Regarding the propagandistic efforts by communist China on TikTok, he warned a complacent America: “The U.S. is a far more powerful society, but China can destroy America because they are attacking us, and we aren’t defending ourselves.”
The author and China expert singled out President Biden for reversing Donald Trump’s ban of TikTok and for general inaction. He stated that Biden “is allowing a foreign regime to attack his political opponents. That’s wrong.”
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Sen. Cotton responded to this latest revelation by painting a broader picture of the dangers of TikTok.
“Using a social media app to corrupt young Americans and teach them to hate their country is just the sort of long-con Chinese Communists love,” he said. “What’s worse, Americans are inviting them do it.”
He added, “You wouldn’t invite a Chinese spy into your home, so why would you download a Chinese spy app onto your phone? Delete it, now.”
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TikTok on Friday morning issued a statement responding to the Forbes report.
“We continue to speak to experts around the world to inform the ongoing development and roll out of our global state-controlled media policy and product features,” spokesperson Jamie Favazza explained.
Favazza promised more clarity in the new year on state-run accounts using TikTok, including China: “We plan to introduce our state-controlled media policy and corresponding labels globally next year as part of our continued focus on media literacy. As we previously confirmed, the global rollout will include China state media.”
Red flags flutter in front of the Great Hall of the People before the annual two sessions on March 4, 2022 in Beijing, China. The fifth session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) opens on March 4. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
The calls for action against TikTok are bipartisan.
“I’m not at all surprised to see the Chinese Communist Party take a page right out of the Russian playbook, but I’m disappointed that Congress has failed to act to prevent this from happening,” Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner’s office said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “Following Russia’s interference in the 2018 election, I co-authored legislation to prevent foreign interference in American elections.”
Wisconsin Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher’s office told Fox News Digital the following: “This is exactly what I have been warning about. And while it’s good we caught the CCP’s efforts this time, next time we may not be so lucky.”
“It’s time to ban TikTok before it’s too late,” Gallagher concluded.
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This point was echoed by Gordon Chang. He insisted there are only two alternatives in combating TikTok.
“Ban TikTok in the United States or force a sale of all ownership to an American company…. Beijing has to have nothing to do with TikTok,” he said.