LA Times Editorial Board Defends TikTok As ‘No Worse’ Than Other Social Media Before Accidentally Explaining Why It Is


The Los Angeles Times submits in a new editorial that “Congress is scapegoating TikTok. It’s no worse than other social media platforms.” But the body of the article goes on to explain exactly why it poses a significantly more worrisome threat to Americans than any other major platform.

TikTok CEO Shou Chew testified before the House Commerce Committee on Thursday and drew enough bipartisan fire from lawmakers to elicit a note of sympathy from the Times.

“Harmful practices are baked into the business models of social media platforms, including Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube… TikTok is similar to other social media apps that vacuum up personal data” observes the editorial board before suggesting that Congress “should be wielding its regulatory authority more broadly to protect consumers, not just TikTok users.”

Yet the editorial board goes on to admit that ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, is what makes it a special case:

The immediate question before federal lawmakers is how to address the national security concerns posed by TikTok’s ties to China. The app was created by Chinese internet technology company ByteDance. Federal agencies have raised alarm because Chinese law requires that tech companies allow government access to user data. There’s also concern that with the platform’s reach — it has 150 million users, or nearly half the U.S. population — and its powerful algorithm, TikTok could be used as a tool to disseminate propaganda or disinformation…

Chew tried to make the case that TikTok is a private company independent of the Chinese government and could build a firewall to ensure there is no foreign interference. But his argument was undercut by an announcement Thursday from the Chinese Commerce Ministry that would oppose the forced sale. China considers technology a national security issue and has the right under Chinese law to block the export of it.

Nevertheless, the Times concludes, the outright ban the Biden administration is considering presents “significant technical and legal issues.” And “besides,” asserts the editorial board, “simply banning TikTok doesn’t address the larger problem.”


The editorial board acknowledges that the United States’ chief geopolitical rival not only has the ability to compel the company to hand over the personal data of 150 million Americans, but is professing its interest in retaining that ability. And yet it doesn’t recognize that as the “larger” issue at stake?

Moreover, while the Times presents the hostility to TikTok as a politically motivated stance taken by elected officials in search of a scapegoat, FBI Director Christopher Wray has repeatedly expressed concerns over the platform, calling it “a tool that is ultimately within the control of the Chinese government” before the Senate Intelligence Committee last month.

“To me, it screams out with national security concerns,” he added.

On Thursday, Chew repeatedly refused to acknowledge the persecution of China’s Uyghur Muslims by the Chinese Communist Party in yet another indication of the company’s close ties to the CCP. A recent report released by a parliamentary panel in Australia revealed that ByteDance has played a part in the prosecution of the Uyghur genocide in Xinjiang province.

No worse than other social media platforms? The Times‘ editorial misses quite a lot and still includes more than enough evidence to falsify its own thesis.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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