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News > U.S.

US TikTok Ban Is a Case of Digital Protectionism

  • Protest against TikTok ban, 2024.

    Protest against TikTok ban, 2024. | Photo: X/ @tassagency_en

Published 24 April 2024

The TikTok ban is a geopolitical issue that has nothing to do with the users themselves, Professor Ferre-Pavia stated.

Carme Ferre-Pavia, a professor of communication studies at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, said that a potential ban in the United States of the TikTok social media app owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance is "a case of digital protectionism." 


US House of Representatives Votes Bill to Ban TikTok

"This is a case of so-called digital protectionism and is a geopolitical issue in which international relations and digital networks are heavily involved but which has nothing to do with the users themselves," Ferre-Pavia pointed out.

"TikTok is a tool that many people use to make money, and not only those with a business or a shop but also influencers, and this monetization side to the issue means many people are affected as stakeholders," she added.

With over 150 million U.S.-based TikTok users, opposition has been growing among Americans to lawmakers' efforts to force ByteDance to sell the short video app or face a ban.

More than 29,000 people have so far signed a MoveOn petition, urging the U.S. Congress and the Biden administration not to ban TikTok, which generated over US$14.7 billion in revenue last year.

The House of Representatives passed the bill requiring ByteDance to sell the social media platform in March. The Senate passed the bill late Tuesday to send it to President Joe Biden.

"There will be groups and lawyers that will challenge the bill's constitutionality, but if it continues, there will likely be some level of divestment in the long run," said the professor.

While the authorities need "tools to monitor networks," the professor argued that a more important issue regarding social media companies is holding them accountable rather than using them for geopolitical advantage.

"Much of the responsibility falls on the companies, which are making big profits. Of course, that includes TikTok, but Meta and the other social networks should also be held responsible," Ferre-Pavia said.

The professor said more work must be done to ensure that all social media companies stem the spread of disinformation and fake news and ensure children's safety, which calls for "responsible" legislation rather than trying to ban TikTok. 

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