DSA Condemns Congress’s Online Censorship through a TikTok Ban

The Democratic Socialists of America condemn the House of Representatives’s recent vote to ban TikTok – a popular social media platform used by almost 170 million Americans – if it is not sold to a US company. 

The House passed this bill with support from 352 Representatives in Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, and only 65 against. This is a clear attempt to censor leftist voices and stifle a source of news and information. We commend DSA members Rep. Cori Bush and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for upholding our democratic values by voting against this authoritarian legislation.

TikTok has become a platform where working-class people, particularly young people, regularly criticize the United States’s response to Israel’s ongoing genocide of Palestinians and other crimes of the ruling class. American imperialists recognize that the independent sharing of information and exchange of political ideas, like that found in many TikTok videos, is a threat to the capitalist hegemony and war machine. The Israel lobby knows they are losing the public relations war, recognizes the role of DSA and aligned organizations in puncturing their media bubbles, and sees the particular ways that young people on the left are exposing their tactics on these platforms.

But TikTok’s ability to spread ideas among young people is not the only reason it’s being targeted by Congress. This move is yet another part of the US government’s new Cold War with China. Congress is using Sinophobia and red-baiting to fear-monger about the Chinese government. While Congress harps on data privacy concerns in claiming it’s necessary to ban TikTok, they turn a blind eye to the shady data practices of US-based companies like Meta. It was recently announced that President Trump’s former Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin is putting together a group of investors to buy the app. The US corporate elite understand that a climate of anger and suspicion against China helps them pursue their financial interests.

To be clear, working people deserve better than social media apps from global megacorporations that thrive on our economic desperation and social alienation. And TikTok’s use of algorithms to suggest content to users, like many other content platforms, contributes to dangerous right-wing radicalization. We don’t need bills designed to transfer ownership of large tech platforms from one corporation to another, but rather public ownership and democratic control for the benefit of all people. 

We must defend our ability to use even privately-owned tools to act collectively in our own interests — until we win the power to reorganize the means of communications platforms for all.