Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) entered the debate about a nationwide ban on Chinese-owned social media app TikTok.
The Democratic Socialist and member of the left-wing “Squad” took to TikTok on Saturday morning to push back against bipartisan support for a nationwide ban on the app. AOC minimized concerns about security and data privacy, saying that TikTok was just one app that harvests massive troves of data. Instead of banning a single app, she called for a broader data privacy law.
“Do I believe TikTok should be banned? No,” AOC opened. The video is her first post on the app, despite having created the account more than a year ago.
“First of all, I think it’s important to discuss how unprecedented of a move this would be,” she said. “The United States has never before banned a social media company from existence, from operating in our borders and this is an app that has over 150 million Americans on it,”
Ocasio-Cortez first discussed criticisms that the app is a vessel for Chinese surveillance, and that it steals user data. She minimized those concerns, saying that banning TikTok “doesn’t really address the core of the issue, which is the fact that major social media companies are allowed to collect troves of deeply personal data about you that you don’t know about, without really any significant regulation whatsoever.”
“In fact, the United States is one of the only developed nations in the world that has no significant data or privacy protection laws on the books,” she said. Instead of banning TikTok, which has 150 million users, outright, the answer is to “actually protect Americans from this kind of egregious data harvesting that companies can do without your significant ability to say no,” she added.
Ocasio-Cortez also criticized the national security concerns about the app. When Congress is considering legislation that has national security implications, they are given a classified briefing; Congress has not received a classified briefing. “Why would we be proposing a ban regarding such a significant issue without being clued in on this at all?” she asked. “It just doesn’t feel right to me.” She also said that Congress needs to make its case for banning TikTok to the public.
“But frankly, I think a lot of this is putting the cart before the horse,” she concluded. “Our first priority should be in protecting your ability to exist without social media companies harvesting and commodifying every single piece of data about you without you and without your consent.”
As of the publishing of this article, the video has garnered more than 2.3 million views.
AOC is not the first member of the Democratic Party to oppose a ban on TikTok. Her “Squad” colleague Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), posted a video on the app Thursday lobbying against a ban. “TikTok as a platform has created a community and a space for free speech for 150 million Americans and counting,” Bowman said in the video. “It is also a place where 5 million small businesses are selling their products and services and making a living.”
Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) also defended TikTok this week.