TikTok Faces Ban In The United States Over Alleged Interference In Domestic Affairs


The principle of non-interference in the affairs of sovereign states has been the cornerstone of the world order for centuries. The United Nations enshrined this principle in its Charter as well as the Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty. However, some nations still use a voluntaristic and opportunistic approach to define this concept.

In the latest piece of legislation signed by US President Joe Biden, America demands Chinese company ByteDance, the owner of social media platform TikTok, to sell its prized asset to a US government-approved buyer. The reason for this alarmism has been the concern of US lawmakers that TikTok may collect sensitive data on its users and transfer it to the Chinese Government and the Chinese Communist Party. Additionally, they believe that TikTok is being used by the Chinese government to interfere in the domestic affairs of the United States and influence the result of the upcoming presidential election.

This is seen as hypocritical at best, as the United States does not seem to pay attention to the fact that most of the social media used worldwide are owned by American companies, with the biggest one of them being Meta, which owns Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram. The ownership of these social media gives the US government immense opportunities to influence the domestic affairs of practically all of the states around the world by promoting specific content, blocking and restricting unwilling creators’ ability to post their views, etc.

In March 2023, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chou wrote a written testimony before the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce clearly stating that “ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country”. In January 2024, he also testified before US lawmakers on online harm to children from social media and answered questions on his alleged affiliation with the China and the Chinese Communist Party, rejecting all these claims.

TikTok has already been banned in some notable cases. India, which was the apps biggest markets, banned it in 2020. Some countries of the Western world, namely the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, and the European Commission have done the same for official devices. They all claim that TikTok is a dangerous platform and a national security threat.

While it is a national security threat for the Western governments, for China this is a strategic asset, which it will never give up on. It is one of the social media apps that has truly gone viral in the last couple of years and the first of its kind, which has not been launched by an American company. Another social media, which is now gathering momentum, is Telegram, which is owned by the Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov. The world of social media is becoming increasingly more diverse when it comes to ownership of said platforms, which is why the American leadership is getting anxious about the possibility of interference in their domestic affairs.

For long years, the US enjoyed the fruits of global social media dominance, engineering “colour revolutions” and mass riots in unfriendly nations with the aims of executing coup d’etats and sewing chaos in them. These platforms have always been a great asset for the American government’s ability to act overseas with their crimes being largely unnoticed by the international community.  In this sense, the United States is now getting a taste of their own medicine, as other nations have developed the infrastructure and the ideological clout to influence the hearts and minds of global audiences against the American globalism.

All in all, banning TikTok will prove to be a difficult task for American lawmakers, as it will be in complete violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which reads that “Congress shall make no law <…> abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” TikTok currently has over 150 million users in the US, which is a record amount worldwide. If US Congressmen and the US President are ready to go against the supreme legislation of their own country, then we cannot expect them to respect any kind of law in the future.

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