“Senators push to declassify TikTok intel and hold a public hearing ahead of ban vote.” — NPR, 3/21/24

- - -

Fellow Senators, I implore you to vote yes on this bill to ban TikTok, a social media platform that threatens to throw our extremely normal media ecosystem into chaos. We must not let this app steer Americans who get their news from obscure corners of Reddit and alt-right Facebook groups toward strange ideas.

You see, democracy needs a well-informed electorate to function, and thanks to today’s very orderly information environment of rage bait, both-sides journalism, and seven-hour YouTube interviews with Jordan Peterson, our electorate has never been less confused about things.

But now, TikTok is injecting dangerous lies into our otherwise completely fine national discourse. Imagine what might happen if we don’t stop it—people reading screencaps of tweets about heavily paraphrased quotes based off of screencaps of other tweets dropped into some guy’s anti-vax Substack may get misled. People waking up every morning and steeping their brains in the “Ben Shapiro Fans for Queer-Free Libraries” Discord server may get pushed into extremism.

That’s not even to mention the threat China poses. If we allow this foreign-owned algorithm to radicalize our politics, our domestically owned ones will no longer be able to pipeline our citizens into webs of progressively more reasonable content.

We must stop TikTok at all costs. This addictive app just tells people what they want to hear. It drives us toward opposite poles of the political spectrum. It normalizes hateful rhetoric—all things that our country’s talk radio hosts have worked tirelessly to prevent—and to fantastic, totally normal results, I might add.

Do you remember those days before TikTok?

We calmly perused our social media feeds, cautiously digesting the observations of our rational neighbors. We thoroughly inspected article headlines and always read the entire story to gain a complete understanding of its context. We roosted upon our couches, turned on cable news, and let the sanity wash over us like a warm bath of knowledge wholly uncompromised by ratings and advertising.

But thanks to TikTok, times may soon become turbulent. We now must look to our foresighted and always-very-in-touch-with-this-kind-of-stuff opinion columnists for guidance. These venerable sages have never walked our people straight into disastrous wars. Now, we ask that they once again shepherd our people toward the truth—that TikTok is the main thing wrong here.

So join me in voting to ban TikTok today. If we fail, who knows what the consequences might be? Our media ecosystem could become so weird and fractured that we put an erratic egomaniac into a position of power who tries to mount an insurrection. That would be terrible, and certainly not normal, like things are now.