By Chris Fenton for RealClearPolitics
Within the dynamic panorama of world leisure, the affect of Beijing over Hollywood has lengthy been a subject of heated dialogue. Whereas the field workplace energy of the Chinese language market has waned, giving a breath of artistic freedom again to our filmmakers, there looms a brand new and extra pervasive type of affect on Hollywood and properly past: TikTok.
Beijing might have misplaced theatrical market leverage, however it has greater than made up for that with an overwhelming social media presence that has turn out to be an epidemic, not simply in Hollywood however all through america. In reality, the Chairman of Congress’s Choose Committee on China, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), precisely labels TikTok as “digital fentanyl” and has been aggressively campaigning to ban the social media app.
As a media government and a storyteller attuned to the intricate dance between creativity, commerce, and geopolitics, I’ve watched Beijing’s sway over Hollywood’s storytelling shift shapes. TikTok, a platform that has rooted itself deep into the material of American youth tradition, is on the forefront of this transformation.
It’s not merely a social media app; it’s a potent instrument of affect, data, information assortment, commerce, and creativity. One which has far outpaced conventional broadcast networks in its attain and affect on younger People. Nevertheless, sadly for the welfare of our nice nation, TikTok is underneath the management of a non-allied nation’s pernicious authorities.
Right here in Hollywood, the dialog is now not about market entry and field workplace numbers contained in the PRC. That Golden Goose is cooked. As a substitute, it’s concerning the very platforms we use to create, promote, and share content material right here in america and elsewhere. When mentioning TikTok in these discussions, China inevitably comes up. In spite of everything, TikTok is a platform owned by a Chinese language firm, operated underneath the jurisdiction and oversight of Beijing, and closely scrutinized by Washington in consequence.
The app offers Beijing a capability to grasp, management, and affect People properly past merely Hollywood content material. In reality, the platform is way more damaging in the way it shapes the opinions and views of adults underneath 30 years of age or, in different phrases, the long run generations of People.
According to Pew Research, a 3rd of these underneath 30 rely solely on TikTok for information, and Beijing can throttle, amplify, or fully censor precisely what the app distributes as “information.” Sure, TikTok’s multitude of lobbyists, public relations personnel, and legal professionals spin and argue the other, however the platform has been caught contradicting one too many instances. Beijing virtually actually calls the photographs.
Understanding such, the nefarious actions from our rival throughout the Pacific now appear gravely damaging to American pursuits, particularly in an election 12 months. Beijing will virtually actually use TikTok to review voter information and management the circulation of data and information, making an attempt to dictate the 2024 election outcomes.
In December, the New York Instances stated, “pundits name subsequent 12 months the ‘TikTok election’ due to the ballooning energy and affect of the video app. TikTok … has more and more turn out to be a information supply for millennials and Gen Z-ers, who will likely be a robust a part of the citizens.”
Worse, research by Securing Democracy discovered that 30% of main get together candidates in Senate races used TikTok accounts as a part of their marketing campaign methods in 2022, and the quantity is probably going greater in the present day.
Logic factors to the plain. TikTok must be banned. And earlier than these opposing such a ban even attempt to invoke the “Freedom of Speech/First Modification” argument, there’s a easy and efficient counter. In america, the Federal Communications Fee prohibits management of American broadcast networks by hostile overseas governments and entities beholden to them.
The ban is grounded within the steadfast perception that we should defend our nationwide narrative and cultural sovereignty from nations trying to weaken or divide us. The query, then, is why ought to TikTok be an exception? Why enable a foreign-owned entity such profound entry to the psyches of our youth, the views of our voters, and the guts of our artistic industries, particularly since Beijing thinks the worldwide app isn’t even worthy of entry in its personal nation?
Banning the app is easy, with priority, and, frankly, extraordinarily vital. This isn’t a name for censorship, neither is it an indictment of the colourful creativity that TikTok has fostered amongst tens of millions of customers. It’s a name for consistency in our insurance policies and for the safety of our nationwide pursuits.
Prohibition could seem disruptive, however as an alternative, it comes with minimal price and substantial advantages. It’ll propel Hollywood again to American-owned and managed platforms, making certain that our content material and the technique of its distribution stay free from the shadow of overseas manipulation. It’s additionally a pleasant, long-overdue motion of reciprocity within the bilateral relationship. Beijing has tilted the scales towards its personal home gamers by stifling or banning overseas rivals contained in the PRC. Why not do the identical to permit Instagram, Twitter, or another revolutionary American social media platform to select up the market that TikTok vacates?
Some might argue that TikTok is simply too entrenched to be uprooted, and that its ban can be a loss too nice for the customers who’ve constructed communities on its platform. However allow us to not underestimate the resilience and ingenuity of our artistic group. Hollywood has all the time been on the vanguard of change, pioneering new methods to inform tales and join with audiences. Within the absence of TikTok, different platforms will rise, fostering an ecosystem that can thrive underneath the values and freedoms we maintain dearly.
Let’s seize this chance. Let’s safeguard the artistic freedoms which have made Hollywood a beacon of storytelling world wide and, extra importantly, defend the integrity of American elections and promote American technological ingenuity.
It’s time to ban TikTok. Both that, or we must always simply enable Beijing full management of our broadcast networks, too.
Chris Fenton is a longtime media government, producer, and writer of “Feeding the Dragon: Inside the Trillion Dollar Dilemma Facing Hollywood, the NBA, and American Business.” As a casual advisor to Congress’ Choose Committee on China and a member of the U.S.-Asia Institute, Council on Overseas Relations, Nationwide Committee on U.S. China Relations, and Third Approach Assume Tank, he based his personal agency, FENTON · International Business Strategy & Communications to assist the personal sector and Washington navigate America’s difficult relationship with non-allied nations. Observe him on X @TheDragonFeeder.
Reprinted with permission from RealClearWire.