Five years back, technology companies were hitting their stride with cracking down on alternative voices. That crackdown has continued over the ensuing years. Further, evidence has increasingly been revealed that fills out the story of how United States government agents have behind the scenes been pushing the crackdown.
Given this context, one is wise to be skeptical of politicians and bureaucrats of the US government, along with their media allies, clamoring that TikTok needs to be banned because it is spreading propaganda for the government of China. It sure sounds like a fox guarding the henhouse sort of situation. Is the US taking a break from its censorship fixation to defend Americans from censorship here? Isn’t a more likely explanation for this talk of banning TikTok that making this threat is part of an effort to further bring this social media company into the US propagandizing operation — that the US government is seeking to advance its own interests, not to protect users of the company’s social media platform?
That’s Glenn Greenwald’s take that he expertly presented in the Tuesday episode of his news program System Update. Summing up the situation, Greenwald commented:
The big tech platforms — Facebook and Google, and Twitter before Elon Musk — as we know were subject to constant orders from the government about what to censor, and they did it. And the reason they’re so fixated on Elon Musk and the reason they hate Rumble and any other site that doesn’t obey them is because they can’t stand the notion that Americans can go on a platform and communicate ideas that they can’t stop.
And this is what the threats to ban TikTok are about. It’s about trying to have the American government be able to commandeer those censorship decisions so that critical videos of [Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky] and the war in Ukraine or videos about the [Osama Bin Laden] letter get censored because the US government wants it to and they can easily get Google and Facebook to censor it. It’s a little harder with TikTok. And TikTok has had to agree more and more because they don’t care about political censorship; they care about profit. These are capitalists. They don’t care about giving the US government control over content moderation. They are happy to do it if that’s the condition they have to meet in order to keep access to the very lucrative US market.
Watch Greenwald’s discussion regarding TikTok in the System Update episode here:
In the video, Greenwald further discusses how TikTok has already largely capitulated to US government control over its actions. But, the US government is not yet satisfied.