Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) is once again demanding that Congress implement a total ban on the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, comparing it to “digital fentanyl” that is poisoning American youth.
While numerous states, as well as the federal government, have begun banning TikTok on government devices due to security threats, many lawmakers have argued that the app should be banned across the United States entirely.
During a Sunday appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Gallagher pointed out the negative effects that TikTok has had on children and teenagers across the U.S., as well as the copious amounts of data the app collects on its users.
“It’s almost like [Chinese company Bytedance] recognize[s] that technology’s influencing kids’ development, and they make their domestic version a spinach TikTok, while they ship the opium version to the rest of the world,” says Tristan Harris. https://t.co/Jro1FTGjKB pic.twitter.com/kZ4ucLerar
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) November 7, 2022
“I think the comparison is apt for at least two reasons,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “One, it’s highly addictive and destructive and we’re seeing troubling data about the corrosive impact of constant social media use, particularly on young men and women here in America.”
“It’s also digital fentanyl in the sense that, as you allude to, it ultimately goes back to the Chinese Communist Party,” Gallagher added. “TikTok is owned by ByteDance. ByteDance is effectively controlled by the CCP. So, we have to ask whether we want the CCP to control what is on the cusp of becoming the most powerful media company in America. That is very troubling. And so, I was glad to see my colleagues in the Senate pass, in unanimous fashion, a ban of TikTok on government devices. I think we should do the same in the House and expand that ban nationally.”
The Republican congressman went on to list multiple safety concerns he had regarding the social media app, especially the fact that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has the ability to use the technology to access and save sensitive data about U.S. citizens who use the app. Gallagher also expressed concern that the CCP is also able to censor and filter information that Americans view on the app.
“I’m concerned about TikTok’s ability to track your location, track your keystrokes, track what websites you’re visiting, even when you’re not using the app,” he explained. “I’m concerned about the lack of transparency around the algorithm which is addicting kids.”
“But I think what’s more pernicious is the fact that, since a lot of young men and women in America increasingly turn to TikTok to get news, what if they start censoring the news, right?” Gallagher asked. “What if they start tweaking the algorithm to determine what the CCP deems fit to print? That’s incredibly dangerous. That’s as if, in 1958, we allowed the KGB and Pravda to buy The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Post. That actually probably understates the threat. I think it’s a multi-pronged threat we need to look at.”
Gallagher is not the first person to characterize TikTok as “digital fentanyl,” as former FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr used the exact same language to describe the app during an interview with Fox News in November.
Nonetheless, Gallagher has been a longtime advocate for Americans to delete TikTok because of security concerns.
The Republican congressman previously introduced bipartisan legislation alongside Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) to outright ban TikTok in the U.S.
BREAKING: Republicans have introduced legislation to ban TikTok from operating in the U.S. pic.twitter.com/xUKcb1G1o3
— Daily Wire (@realDailyWire) December 13, 2022
“It would allow for a sale to an American company,” Gallagher said regarding his proposed legislation. “That option was explored during the Trump administration. Oracle explored a version of that. Microsoft ultimately fell through. I think there’s a workable solution there… I’m open to having that discussion with TikTok. And I really want to have that discussion with the Biden administration. I don’t think this should be a partisan issue. I want to work with them… this isn’t a partisan issue.”