Debate: Should the U.S. Ban TikTok?

by Isaac Grafstein at The Free Press: What, if anything, should we do about TikTok? Is the forced sale of the fastest-growing social media platform in the world a commonsense step to protect America from the influence of the Chinese Communist Party? Or is legislation that would mandate the app’s sale or ban a threat to free speech? 

That’s the passionate debate we’re having at The Free Press right now.

Not least because we respect people on both sides of the issue. Congressman Mike Gallagher, the lawmaker behind the bill that passed the House overwhelmingly last week and is on its way to the Senate, has written persuasively for us about the way in which TikTok has poisoned our politics. On the other side, Matt Taibbi—someone we always listen to when it comes to all things First Amendment—warns the legislation risks becoming a second Patriot Act, which gave the government sweeping new powers well beyond its stated purpose of catching terrorists after 9/11. 

To help us—and you—think through this important issue, we invited two more people we respect, and who disagree about the TikTok bill, to thrash it out in a debate hosted by Michael Moynihan. 

Geoffrey Cain is the author of The Perfect Police State and senior fellow at the National Security Institute of George Mason University. He says the TikTok bill is a logical extension of our current laws—and a necessary countermeasure to authoritarian meddling. Walter Kirn is a novelist, Free Press contributor, editor-at-large of County Highway, and co-host of the podcast America This Week. He argues the bill is a dangerous overreach justified by flimsy evidence of an alleged threat. 

You can watch their conversation and find an edited transcript of the conversation here.