Adam Hardej

Mar 23, 2023·Newsletter

TikTok Ban Battle

TikTok Ban Battle

Alright, alright, alright. Hot button issue here we come. These are my personal semi-informed opinions and do not represent the views of Stonks as a company or of our investors.

Also, please don't overreact to the meme. If you keep reading you'll see I'm more moderate about the issue. It's just a good format.


Should TikTok be banned?

There was a hearing in Washington today with the CEO of TikTok, Shou Zi Chew.

The two sides of the argument I see:

  1. Yes, it should because there is a risk of Chinese government control.
  2. No, it shouldn't because protectionism is bad.

Martin Peers from The Information makes the "protectionism is bad" point here.

He tosses in lines like "reeks of xenophobia" and a reference to how some TikTok creators would lose their income, but mainly he makes a slippery slope protectionism point.

"The big U.S. tech companies typically generate around half their revenue from international markets. Do they really want to support anything that smacks of protectionism?"

Martin is laying it on a bit thick with the "reeks of xenophobia" comment and is definitely reaching to suggest that Snapchat should defend TikTok so that they don't get kicked out of other countries.

That being said, the hearing today was not very productive. If we're going to invite the CEO of TikTok to speak we should at least let him make a case for himself. Here's a writeup of the first hearings where you'll see that it wasn't much of a conversation.

What I think is more worthwhile is the "Written Statement of Testimony" that was submitted. You can check that out here. In it, Shou Chew commits to handling a number of notable concerns around privacy and government control.

The problem I see is less with TikTok's intentions and more with their ability to uphold those commitments. Whether there has been foul play in the past or not and whether TikTok intends to uphold his commitments don't really seem to matter.

If the CCP does come knocking does TikTok really have the ability to say no? My read is that they don't (understandably) and is why I end up on "should ban" side of this.

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