TikTok Town Hall With RFK Jr.: The Threat From China Isn’t TikTok

I think it’s important that presidential candidates take the time to speak to regular Americans without the mainstream media controlling the conversation. Last month, I joined TikTok creators for a virtual town hall about the TikTok Ban and our first amendment rights. Thank you to all the participants for your thoughtful questions. I hope everyone enjoys the Q & A clips we plan to release in the coming days.

Some 170 million Americans use TikTok, and 78% of small businesses in the U.S. rely on the app for revenue. Now, the federal government plans to take that away. I support TikTok creators’ and users’ rights to free speech and the ambition to bring class action suits against the TikTok ban passed into law last April.

The legal argument to ban TikTok hinges on the idea that the app is a threat to national security. Whether or not that’s true, Americans have the right to read or watch any outlet they like. The first amendment makes no exception for national security. Free speech is sacrosanct, and banning it is the first step on the slippery slope to totalitarianism.

If Americans are genuinely worried about China’s influence, TikTok, which paid $5.3 billion in taxes in 2023, is an unlikely place to start. How about the offshoring of American jobs and our bioweapons programs to China, or China’s massive holdings in US debt and US farmland? If we’re really concerned about China’s influence, shouldn’t we be addressing those problems, not targeting an app used by half the country and co-owned by American investors?

TikTok is a gateway for young entrepreneurs to start businesses at a time when many young people are saddled with debt or have little chance of owning their own home. Through TikTok, start-ups can get free publicity without a paid business account. The other social media giants like Google and Meta envision a pay-to-play platform for all verified businesses, and (legitimately) see TikTok as a threat.

Taking away financial opportunities for young Americans and our core constitutional rights over fears of Chinese influence is a misguided strategy. Let’s overturn the TikTok ban by bringing the fight for free speech to the courts!

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