The efforts to save TikTok are reaching a fevered pitch among leftists and libertarians.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., broke from his Senate GOP colleagues on Tuesday over their opposition to TikTok, arguing that banning the popular social media app “goes against the First Amendment.”
“I think it’s a really bad idea. And people need to ask themselves, ‘Why does the Chinese government ban TikTok, and do we want to emulate the Chinese government?”
China doesn’t ban TikTok. The domestic version of TikTok is known as Douyin and it’s heavily censored so that it doesn’t do things like tell 8-year-old girls to choke themselves to death or encourage 16-year-old girls to get themselves mutilated.
Like fentanyl, that’s a special treat that China saves for us by giving us TikTok.
“If you ban a social media platform, you know, I don’t know if you get any clearer that that goes against the First Amendment.”
Since when is a Chinese tech company protected by the First Amendment?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Which part of that was meant to protect Chinese tech platforms again? Was it the “right of the people” to petition the government? Or perhaps abridging the freedom of speech or the press?
Asked why he’s opposed to a bill introduced by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and John Thune, R-S.D., that would give the president a pathway to banning TikTok, Paul replied, “I’m for the First Amendment to the Constitution, which says that companies that operate in the United States, we shouldn’t limit their speech or people who try to broadcast speech on those platforms.”
The First Amendment says nothing about “companies that operate in the United States”.
The First Amendment may protect the videos of American users on the site, but Trump and now even Biden are pressuring TikTok to sell its U.S. business. And even an actual ban on TikTok is not equivalent to a ban on American users. They’re free to upload their videos to other platforms.
A platform is not speech, nor for that matter is it the press, it’s a business. And while there might be an argument to make regarding Facebook or Twitter, Chinese companies are not protected by the Constitution.
“Any bills that name a particular organization have a constitutional problem … not allowed to write a specific law against a person or a company. The First Amendment also requires the government to stay out of regulating speech or preventing speech,” Paul argued.
There have been plenty of bills that named foreign enemy organizations like Al Qaeda or individuals.
Banning TikTok doesn’t regulate speech, it regulates a platform. It’s directed at China’s control over that platform.
The United States government is allowed to prevent foreign interests from doing business in America or owning certain strategic resources.
Over a dozen states, including Kentucky, where Senator Rand Paul lives, ban foreigners from buying up farmland. If we can restrict Chinese ownership of farmland, we can certainly limit their ownership of our children.