TikTok, what gives? What happen to freedom of speech? Assembly?

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  1. tsmog profile image85
    tsmogposted 2 months ago

    "The House of Representatives voted 352-65 on Wednesday for a bill that threatens to ban the social media platform TikTok. The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act would ban TikTok from app stores unless its Chinese parent company ByteDance gives up ownership within six months.

    The vote moved America a little bit closer to the Chinese-style online censorship that TikTok's opponents decry. Whether they acknowledge it or not, TikTok's opponents are using the same arguments that Chinese and Iranian censors can—and do—use to justify cracking down on social media in their own countries.

    More at, TikTok's Opponents Want Chinese-style Censorship in America by Reason online magazine (Mar 13, 2023)

    Instead of freeing Americans from censorship, the TikTok bill would tighten the U.S. government's control over social media.

    https://reason.com/2024/03/13/tiktoks-o … n-america/

    Billionaire Musk Joins Trump To Denounce TikTok Ban As ‘Censorship And Government Control’ by Forbes (Mar 12, 2024)
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianbusha … 33d4296a36

    "Billionaire Elon Musk slammed a potential federal ban on social media app TikTok Tuesday morning, claiming a congressional bill that could restrict access to the app amounts to “censorship and government control,” making Musk—who owns rival social media platform X—the latest to criticize the bill, joining former President Donald Trump."

    Does national security trump free speech and assembly?

    Constitution Preamble states:

    "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

    Is the spirit of the 'promote general welfare' clause at play?

    'To Promote the General Welfare' by American Constitution Society
    https://www.acslaw.org/expertforum/to-p … l-welfare/

    "Preamble states that an overriding purpose of the U.S. Constitution is to “promote the general welfare,” indicating that issues such as poverty, housing, food and other economic and social welfare issues facing the citizenry were of central concern to the framers. However, the Bill of Rights ** has been largely construed to provide procedural mechanisms for fair adjudication of those rights rather than carving out claims on the government to ensure that individuals actually have any social and economic assets to protect."

    ** The first amendment "protects freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Note: Isn't meeting in social media platforms a form of assembly?

    I am perplexed. Straighten me out.


    1. GA Anderson profile image88
      GA Andersonposted 2 months agoin reply to this

      There seem to be two major reasons to ban TikTok: the Chinese government could dictate algorithm changes to promote disinformation or propaganda or suppress legitimate information, and, that they have access to users' data.

      I think these are credible fears. I also think the charge of 'Chinese-style' censorship is spot on. Censorship on this scale should not be acceptable, another option is needed.

      Coincidently, was listening to coverage of Don Lemon's Elon Musk interview as I was reading. I didin't catch the details (yet) but the gist is summed up by Don Lemon's ending thought that maybe influential  'public square' enterprises (Meta, X, et al) shouldn't be privately owned, it's too much power for one man.

      It's an unintended tangent, but I think it does fit right in with the TikTok controversy.


      1. tsmog profile image85
        tsmogposted 2 months agoin reply to this

        Thanks for the input GA!

        I appreciate the intent to protect us citizens from having our personal data scraped or mined by the CCP. Who knows what it will be used for while I think of other governmental agencies including our own who do the same.

        But, as with the OP, I am perplexed.

        Interesting with the Musk - Lemon interview adding food for thought. If social media sites were government run most certainly all of them one would think would be following the same rules regarding censorship. Alas, comes 'Freedom of Speech' again. Perplexing.

        It is similar to the arguments of colleges/universities being a fest pool of liberalism. though there are more than enough conservative/religious colleges/universities to make an argument.  In my view those are just as much a public square as standing on a soap box at the corner or meeting up on 'X', Truth Social, Gabb, Facebook, and etc.

        I think at this time as I ponder, which is subject to change, is it is the justified fear of data mining through whatever means to use with social engineering no matter who is in control. Perhaps, it is Mork from Ork.

        With that in mind, in another thread is the discussion of the latest report from the Pentagon on UFOs. Two days ago on a channel I get, that is the only channel with movies, is Bounce. They broadcast:

        Men in Black
        Men in Black II
        Men in Black 3

        . . . one after the other. ha-ha Perfect timing. A government secret agency protecting the average citizen from aliens. Analogously, the CCP/China is another planet, right?

        1. GA Anderson profile image88
          GA Andersonposted 2 months agoin reply to this

          Good analogies. Yep, everyone following the same rules for censorship—the government's rules.

          Nope, banning TikTok for the stated reasons is wrong.

          As a side note to the Lemon interview point . . . Lemon is claiming Musk canceled the interview because he didn't like it. Almost everyone is picking up that line. The truth appears to be that Musk did not cancel Lemon's show on X (he even stated Lemon could still post it on X), he simply declined to participate in a considered commercial partnership.

          Lemon isn't being canceled, he's just not being promoted as an X partner.


    2. Sharlee01 profile image88
      Sharlee01posted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

      TikTok's presence in the United States raises tons of concerns that warrant careful consideration. Firstly, the platform's data practices and ownership by a Chinese company have sparked fears over data privacy and national security, with valid worries that user information could be exploited or shared with foreign entities.

      In my view, ensuring effective content moderation remains a big challenge, with issues ranging from cyberbullying to the spread of misinformation, posing risks to users' safety and well-being.

      Additionally, copyright infringement concerns persist as users frequently incorporate copyrighted material into their videos, raising legal implications. There's also a need to address the platform's potential for facilitating exploitation and predation, particularly concerning minors.

      Algorithmic Bias and Filter Bubbles: TikTok's recommendation algorithm plays a significant role in determining which content users see. However, there are concerns that these algorithms may inadvertently promote biased or polarizing content, contributing to filter bubbles and echo chambers.  Do we need to give China this form of power over Americans, especially our children?

      1. tsmog profile image85
        tsmogposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

        Thanks for the contribution!

        I would go along with most and not argue those points. But, I got hung up on the last paragraph. If Kevin O'Leary or Bobby Kotick or Steven Mnuchin bought TikTok would those algorithms go away? With what little I have read on their proposals, the structure of TikTok hasn't come up.

        1. Sharlee01 profile image88
          Sharlee01posted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

          In the realm of computer science, the process of instructing a computer to perform tasks begins with the creation of a computer program. This program serves as a set of instructions, meticulously detailing each step necessary to achieve a desired outcome. As the program is executed, the computer diligently follows these instructions, executing them mechanically until the task is completed. However, the manner in which the task is carried out is not predefined; rather, it is determined by the chosen algorithm. Algorithms represent the fundamental techniques employed to accomplish tasks within a computer program. Thus, in essence, algorithms serve as the guiding principles dictating how a computer fulfills its designated functions.

            In the context of discussing the potential acquisition of TikTok by Kevin O'Leary or similar scenarios, the fate of its existing algorithms hinges on the decisions made by the new owner, whether it be Kevin O'Leary or the Chinese in the agreement deal. Both parties possess the authority to either retain or alter these algorithms. As demonstrated by Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter and subsequent directive for significant algorithmic changes, ownership changes can indeed prompt alterations in platform functionality. However, the introduction of a new American owner does not inherently guarantee adjustments to the existing algorithms. It is hoped that if a new owner were to identify any subversive algorithms, they would be compelled to eliminate them as a matter of responsibility and ethical consideration.

          Do you engage in discussions on platforms like AOL article chats? The current algorithm in place may filter out certain words, preventing your comment from being posted. These words are carefully selected to mitigate instances of hate speech. However, some chat forums might not have adequate filters to remove hate speech. This underscores the influence of algorithms. Should we allow China to control the algorithms that we and our children are exposed to, particularly from a young age? In my opinion, we should not. I believe common sense should play a significant role in determining whether platforms like TikTok are necessary. If the US needs a TikTok-like forum ---  "build it and they will come"

          I believe safeguarding free speech is essential. Nonetheless, algorithms have the potential to disseminate misinformation, posing a significant danger. Consequently, it becomes the responsibility of individuals to discern between truth and falsehood. However, when considering very young individuals, do they possess the capability to differentiate? Or are they more inclined to accept what algorithms expose them to without question Tiktok is most popular with kids. Just food for thought.

          1. tsmog profile image85
            tsmogposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

            Thanks for sharing, Sharlee!

            Though I am not a programmer per se, I have extensive experience using Excel formulas for spreadsheets and Visual Basic too. I get how programming works. However, I appreciate what you shared. Algorithms use the basic functionality as those do facilitating 'if, then, otherwise' statements to achieve an outcome.

            Anyway, the last paragraph piqued my curiosity, perhaps a flaw, on the topic of users. The article next is the skinny on demographics and statistics for TikTok updated Feb 15, 2024. For users is the following:

                2.5% of TikTok’s monthly active users in the U.S. are 11 or under.
                17.7% of TikTok’s monthly active users in the U.S. are 12-17.
                23.9% of TikTok’s monthly active users in the U.S. are 18-24.
                25.2% of TikTok’s monthly active users in the U.S. are 25-34.
                17.1% of TikTok’s monthly active users in the U.S. are 35-44.
                6.7% of TikTok’s monthly active users in the U.S. are 45-54.
                5.2% of TikTok’s monthly active users in the U.S. are 55-64.
                1.8% of TikTok’s monthly active users in the U.S. are 65 or over.

            To give perspective monthly users equates to 1 billion worldwide. Wow! For the U.S. it is 102 million.

            So, yes, I am in agreement we should take care regarding the youth, however it should be inclusive of all social media sites.

            If curiosity strikes and one desires to explore comes the following . . .

            TikTok Statistics You Need to Know by Backlink (Feb 15, 2024)

            That would bear on the OP Topic.

            Teens, Social Media and Technology 2023 by Pew Research (Dec 11, 2023)
            https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/20 … logy-2023/

            1. Sharlee01 profile image88
              Sharlee01posted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

              Thanks for the demographics... I never would have guessed so many 17 and up use the site. I have never taken an interest in the site thus far.

              "So, yes, I am in agreement we should take care regarding the youth, however it should be inclusive of all social media sites."

              I 100% agree

  2. tsmog profile image85
    tsmogposted 2 months ago

    What is the Senate saying about TikTok?

    Get the scoop, next . . .

    Schumer signals slower pace on TikTok measure in the Senate by Roll Call (Mar 14, 2024)
    https://rollcall.com/2024/03/14/schumer … 03/14/2024

    "The bill’s next step is the Senate, though, where the attitude was summed up Wednesday by Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, who greeted the House passage by saying, “The Senate will review the legislation when it comes over from the House,” offering no indication of a timetable. "

    "Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., top lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee with access to intelligence information on China’s potential to use TikTok to influence the thinking of its 170 million American users, welcomed the House measure.

    “We are united in our concern about the national security threat posed by TikTok — a platform with enormous power to influence and divide Americans whose parent company ByteDance remains legally required to do the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party,” Warner and Rubio said in a statement. “We were encouraged by today’s strong bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives, and look forward to working together to get this bill passed through the Senate and signed into law.”

    "But other senators have been circumspect as civil rights groups raise questions about the measure. Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said the bill violated the First Amendment right to free speech.

    The House-passed measure is “a great gift to authoritarians around the world, who will soon be citing it to justify new restrictions on their own citizens’ access to ideas, information, and media from abroad,” Jaffer said in a statement. “The bill is also a missed opportunity, because Congress can address the most serious problems associated with TikTok without restricting Americans’ access to one of the world’s most popular communications platforms. It should begin by passing a comprehensive privacy law.”

    Senate Commerce Chair Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said in an email that she would be speaking with her House and Senate colleagues to “try to find a path forward that is constitutional and protects civil liberties” while acknowledging she was “very concerned about foreign adversaries’ exploitation of Americans’ sensitive data and their attempts to build backdoors in our information communication technology and services supply chains.”

  3. tsmog profile image85
    tsmogposted 2 months ago

    An interesting read through a newsletter from CNN - What matters, is following. It is copy/pasted. However, it gives perspective with the Q&A format with CNN’s chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller.

    The moral argument for TikTok (and the national security argument against it)

    Any American brought up to believe in the basic principles of free speech and free enterprise is probably at least somewhat concerned that Congress moved quickly and overwhelmingly to pass legislation targeting TikTok.

    It’s not clear if the Senate will ultimately pass the bipartisan legislation, which would give TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance five months to either sell TikTok or face a ban of the app in the US.

    The app is used by some 170 million Americans and more than half of Americans under the age of 30. It’s more than fair to ask why Congress is focused on TikTok when Facebook and X, formerly Twitter, have been shown to push misinformation in previous elections. Anyone concerned about US kids addicted to their phones can wonder why lawmakers would target TikTok when Instagram has been shown to be just as problematic.

    Then there are the many people within the US who make their living on TikTok, which has found success not because of its ties to China but because it is a superior product and has created a digital town square. Expect TikTok and ByteDance to make all of these points in court, if it comes to that.

    There is also the concern that in addition to being bad policy, forcing the sale of TikTok could be bad politics – at least for President Joe Biden, who has indicated he will sign the bill if it gets through the Senate. Would removing the most popular app from the phones of young people discourage them from voting for him?

    China has called the proposed legislation a form of “bullying.” Steven Mnuchin, the former Treasury secretary under former President Donald Trump, wants to capitalize on the opportunity and is trying to organize investors to buy the app.

    I asked John Miller, CNN’s chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, for reasons why the government and Americans should be very concerned about TikTok. He forwarded detailed answers to some general questions, reproduced below, which explain the national security side of the story.

    What is it exactly that the US government is worried about with TikTok?

    MILLER: In the broader sense, an app that has 170 million American subscribers offers China a large-scale platform to collect highly specific data on individual users.

    That includes their contacts, their location information, what device they own right down to the model number in the operating system, email address, date of birth, search and browsing history, information about the photos and videos that they upload and that they view.

    It’s enough to develop a detailed profile of an individual if that individual becomes of interest to the Chinese government.

    TikTok has also admitted to doing some keylogging – that’s when it records what a user is typing into their keyboard, which technically goes beyond what is in the user agreement, but TikTok claims it is only using that data to identify bots or debug systems. There’s no way to know for sure.

    Is it any more than Google or Facebook collect from American users? And why would TikTok risk its profits by turning over user information to the Chinese government?

    MILLER: That’s not how China works. There isn’t really a choice for companies operating there.

    In 2017, just to make that formal, Chinese lawmakers approved a law that said “all organizations and citizens shall support, assist and cooperate with the national intelligence efforts.”

    So, even if we assign the best of intentions to TikTok and its owners, if the Chinese government decides they want all personal data on a Chinese dissident using the platform in the United States, or someone they might try to recruit as an intelligence source, the company doesn’t have the option of saying “no.”

    (Note: TikTok says decisions about the company are made by its Singapore-based CEO and senior leaders based in Singapore, the US and Ireland. Three of five members of the ByteDance board of directors, it says, are American).

    When it comes to intelligence operations, the Chinese are known for their long game. How could their investment in making TikTok – this huge global platform – play into intelligence efforts?

    MILLER: The obvious way is to use the platform to push influence campaigns that can reach hundreds of millions of users. The other is the ability to do the opposite: to limit influence campaigns China doesn’t like on the platform through various means.

    RELATED: TikTok executive refuses Jake Tapper’s multiple requests to acknowledge China’s treatment of Uyghurs

    (Note: TikTok denies censoring content and maintains that it is meant for entertainment. A report by researchers at Rutgers University found that topics which the Chinese government represses inside its own territory are underrepresented on TikTok compared with Instagram.)

    What are we missing here?

    MILLER: What we are missing is the bigger picture by looking at TikTok in a vacuum.

    In 2014, Chinese hackers burrowed their way into the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) records and were able to exfiltrate 4.2 million files on government employees including SF-86 forms. These are the forms you fill out to get a secret or top-secret clearance from the US government.

    Basically, that gave China the entire record, biography, family members, even fingerprints of every intelligence officer and spy employed by the US government. It was a devastating loss.

    A year later, in 2015, suspected Chinese hackers broke into the Anthem Healthcare system records and compromised another 7.8 million sets of personal information.

    Anthem is one of the main health providers for the US government. So, if China already had the names of everybody with the security clearance from the government, now by stealing their health care records they would have even more specific and personal information so that they could correlate, disambiguate and identify people with common names who cross the border into China.

    Think about that for a minute. Imagine a CIA officer working undercover in China – the minute they hand over their passport, a bell would ring in the Chinese intelligence service connecting the government to the agent’s life story.

    Now, for the sake of argument, add in TikTok data and the Chinese government would have information about their phone, the operating system, email addresses and a lot more about them – their contacts, family and their habits.

    Wouldn’t you say it’s doubtful that most intelligence officers in sensitive positions today are TikTok users?

    MILLER: True, but the advantage the Chinese government may get in their long game is being able to collect personal data today about kids who might be the elected officials, government leaders or even the spies 20 years from now.

  4. Nathanville profile image93
    Nathanvilleposted 8 weeks ago

    It makes a change:  Several Americans on HP consistently and falsely claim that we don’t have free speech in the UK and Europe – which is complete rubbish.  And here we are, where the American government is being accused of stifling free speech by attempting to ban TikTok, while in most of the rest of the world the use of TikTok is banned on Government devices only, but not banned for private use; with the exception of perhaps India, Pakistan and Afghanistan where their Governments are taking a tougher line and have imposed a total ban like the USA is proposing.

    https://www.euronews.com/next/2024/03/1 … nage-fears

    As far as I can see (unless I’m missing a point); how would a complete ban of TikTok affect free speech anyway?  E.g. without TikTok there’s plenty of other social media platforms for people to use to express their views; for example, in India with the total banning of TiKTok an Indian popular media company ‘MX Player’ have introduced their own equivalent to TikTok, called Moj.

    I don’t know about in America, but in the UK TikTok isn’t a prime social media platform; only 40% of Brits use TikTok, whereas the three most popular social platforms in the UK are:-

    •    WhatsApp = 79% of British adults.
    •    Facebook = 73% of British adults.
    •    Instagram = 60% of British adults..

    The UK Government banned TikTok from Government devices on the 16th March, but has no intention of banning it for private use.

    Likewise, the EU Government banned TikTok from Government devices on the 20th March, but has no intention of banning it for private use.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tikt … app-review

    https://news.sky.com/story/is-tiktok-ge … k-13093787

    1. tsmog profile image85
      tsmogposted 8 weeks agoin reply to this

      The big fear is it is a Chinese owned company, thus connections to the CCP. It is the fact of data being obtained and used for nefarious means that is the scare.

      The banning of it is true here for federal worker usage presently and with some states as well.

      I posted this OP because of the complexity with 'Free Speech' vs. National Security. Perplexing, in my eyes.

      1. Nathanville profile image93
        Nathanvilleposted 8 weeks agoin reply to this

        Yep, absolutely; there is no question that with TikToc being a Chinese owned company that there is a real risk of the CCP obtaining and using personal data nefarious means – which is why just about every country in the Western World has already banned the use of TikTok on Government Devices.

        And as an individual, if you have any concerns, it would be prudent not to use TikTok yourself for personal use – Although for most countries in the world (rightly or wrongly) that decision is being left to personal choice – It’s only in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan where TikTok has been totally banned – the route America is contemplating.

        Although in Indian popular media company ‘MX Player’ has already introduced their own equivalent to TikTok, which works in exactly the same way as TikToc, called Moj:  So for India, the total ban has made no real difference, as the banned social media platform has been replaced with an alternative identical social media platform that doesn’t have the security risks.  So I’m sure if that can be done in India, there’s no reason it can’t be done in America!

        But with regards to your last paragraph, I don’t see how it impinges on free speech, because TikToK is only a social media platform for American’s to speak to each other and the world, it’s not a voice for China in any way.

        But if people are concerned about breaches of personal data (which they should be) then GCHQ poses a greater threat in that it eaves drops on over 25% of world communications anyway.  And the fact that the NSA and GCHQ share personal data with each other might be even more of concern to Americans?

        Cornish Town Is A Centre For Spying:  https://youtu.be/6kT1cn5Od-Y

    2. GA Anderson profile image88
      GA Andersonposted 8 weeks agoin reply to this

      Relative to your "As far as I can see . . . " thought . . .

      Your logic seems reasonable when you include the details (like size and names), but I think it hits a wall without them.

      From your example, consider 4 entities without the specifics; A, B, C, and D.

      The authority bans A because it is dangerous. It is not a free speech restriction because 'the' speech can still be voiced on 3 other entities—no one has been silenced, they are just inconvenienced.

      You can see what's coming. The scenario of future bannings 'because they are dangerous.' The 'other avenues' reasoning fails when there are no other avenues.

      Just for chuckles, think of all the old tropes that could have been tossed in: 'slippery slope,' 'first for . . . then for you,' etc.

      But . . . as Tsmog says, it can be a perplexing issue. What if the claimed danger of a Chinese ability to seriously influence nearly an entire American generation with true propaganda and misinformation is real—and we could not stop it? What if the personal data the Chinese have access to really is as important as claimed? As a generic example, what if it can find the location of a VIP by extrapolating data from their kids' TikTok data?

      Those arguments might be real enough to warrant a ban, but they are secondary to the first question of whether banning TikTok is censorship. I think it is. The question is whether it is enough of a danger to legitimize the censorship.


      1. Nathanville profile image93
        Nathanvilleposted 8 weeks agoin reply to this

        I understand what you are saying; but it is a matter of opinion, and (maybe because I’m British) I have a different viewpoint.

        I don’t see how banning TikTok is censorship, in that TikTok is only a platform that in America is used by Americans for communication with each other and the world – no different to any other platform in that respect.  So whose voice is being censored?

        ‘Slippery slope’, ‘thin end of the edge’ etc. in this context, to me is just ‘fear mongering’ as an excuse to defend not banning ‘TikTok’ on the grounds that the Government, if they ban TikTok will then target Facebook, and twitter etc. next.

        Yeah, sure; could go down the same route as the EU & UK in imposing regulations on social media platforms to make them legal responsible for policing ‘hate speech’ (although I doubt it); but the issue over TikTok isn’t about ‘free speech’, it’s about the fear that the Chinese Government may use TikTok for spying on ordinary citizens in the West; just like GCHQ does – except GCHQ is a trusted ally to America, and beside the NSA (America’s equivalent to GCHQ) has a strong relationship with GCHQ anyway.  About 25% of the world’s communications goes via the UK (which GCHQ taps into), and a high proportion of emails sent from America to the rest of the world goes via the UK.  If American wasn’t an ally then GCHQ would be of more concerns to Americans than TikTok.


        The GCHQ Tempora Program: https://youtu.be/9p231YWX1qM

        This is how GCHQ got access to a large chunks of the world’s communisations:  https://youtu.be/BN744Pcr3W4

        Which brings me to your penultimate paragraph:  Yep, what you say is spot on; and thus that does make a good case for a total ban on TikTok – which is the route that India, Pakistan and Afghanistan have taken, and which America is thinking of taking.

        For some reason, Governments in the rest of the free world, including the EU & UK have opted to only ban TikToK from Government devices; but leaving individual citizen the free choice as to whether they use TikTok or not. 

        Which tact is the best?  E.g. just ban it on Government devices, like most of the rest of the world; or a complete ban, as America is suggesting – I don’t have a strong opinion on that point either way – But it has nothing to do with free speech.

        1. GA Anderson profile image88
          GA Andersonposted 8 weeks agoin reply to this

          I'm worried about getting stuck on this one because my stubbornness is kicking in. So, consider this a challenging walk-through rather than a blunt 'you're wrong' declaration.

          The "A,B,C,D" example has to be the starting point. It addresses both the "fearmongering" of the tropes and the determination of actual censorship, without the biases introduced by the specifics.

          I think history shows the proof of the example. First A gets banned, then B gets banned, and so on until there is only authority-approved speech. Those old tropes may be fearmongering when they are licentiously used, but that doesn't deny the truth of them.

          It's easiest to use the current boogymen, i.e. China, Russia, N. Korea, et al. as examples, simply consider them as representative rather than specific*. China's new Hong Kong national security law seems a good example of the truth of the tropes. They are not always just terms for fearmongering.

          *I stumbled across  a good article from Britannica that offers many other named sovereign states (from ancient times until modern times) that could be substituted for China and Russia.

          Removing a platform for free speech doesn't seem like censorship as long as there are other choices, simply go somewhere else. But it is censorship when there is nowhere else to go.

          Does your reasoning (with the TikTok details) hold for the ABCD example? Or, are we talking past each other about different things?


          1. Nathanville profile image93
            Nathanvilleposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

            I don’t know whether we “are we talking past each other about different things” or not, and most I’m NOT suggesting a “you're wrong declaration”; we just have different cultural, political and social viewpoints, most likely because we’re from opposite sides of the pond.

            Thanks for the link, it was most certainly an interesting read, and I didn’t skim through it, I read every word.  However the first part of the article was about “Censorship under a Military Government”; which definitely doesn’t apply to the USA, UK or the EU.

            The second part of the article, goes off at a tangent to speak about “Censorship in the United States”, and then focuses on modern historic events in America of specific (time related) occasions where the American Government has tried to supress information (often in the name of National Security); most events quoted could arguably be justified, except for the American Government witch hunt for communism in America between 1948 and 1961 – while the rest of the world looked on in horror at the tyrannical behaviour of the American Federal Government.

            Although the article (near the bottom) does wrap up by questioning whether all this is actually censorship or not, by posing this scenario, to quote from the article:-

            “If, for example, a community believes that video games are corrupting the young and generally playing havoc with education and the public character, is it really helpless to do anything about it? Would it be censorship to abolish altogether such a baleful influence?  And if abolition of video games should be considered censorship, may not that suggest that censorship is not altogether bad?”

            Reference your “challenging walk-through” i.e. “The "A,B,C,D" example”:

            Firstly, China, Russia, N. Korea, et al. are Dictatorships, the UK, USA & EU are Free Democracies.

            Secondly, with respect to A being the “thin edge of the wedge”, then B & C and finally D being banned in your scenario – Such occurrence is highly unlikely in a free democracy like the USA, UK or EU –

            And besides, in reference to your penultimate paragraph:  if ‘A’ (TikTok) is banned, then what is there to stop an American tech company from creating its own version of TikTok, just as has happened in India when they totally banned TiKTok?

            Going back to your article link that after talking about censorship under military governments then talks about historic censorship in the USA; things are a lot simpler in the UK – We have the D-Notice:

            Australia and Sweden were the only other countries in the world to have used the D-Notice, but the UK is the only country in the world that still uses it.

            The D-Notices, introduced in the UK in 1912 are official requests to news editors not to publish or broadcast items on specified subjects for reasons of national security.  Under British Law D-notices are only advisory requests and are not legally enforceable; although the news media generally comply – but not always.

            For example, in 2017 the UK Government issued a D-Notice in respect to the Steele dossier alleging collusion between Donald Trump and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election; on that occasions a number of British News Media ignored the UK Government and published the information anyway, including the BBC (State owned), the Daily Telegraph (right-wing newspaper) and The Guardian (left wing newspaper).


            1. GA Anderson profile image88
              GA Andersonposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

              Your noting of "military governments" caused me to pause. I put in the wrong link. I intended to link to the start of the article but mistakenly inserted the link to the last page I read. Sorry.

              The starting point was here: "Censorship, the changing or the suppression or prohibition of speech or writing that is deemed subversive of the common good. It occurs in all manifestations of authority to some degree, but in modern times it has been of special importance in its relation to government and the rule of law."

              You say you read every word, so hopefully you caught my mistake and did start with the introduction. If not, my references to ancient times must have seemed unsupported and any response here would be based on too much of an assumption. I'll reply after that is cleared up.

              With the exception of one note about the perception that being a dictatorship or democracy makes a difference: We (U.S.) had The Sedition Act for a couple of years. The type of government only changes the methods used to accomplish the act.


              1. Nathanville profile image93
                Nathanvilleposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

                Thanks for the clarity, and the correct link.  No I didn’t see the full article before, but I have now scan-read the whole article (a technique I learnt and used in the civil service) – so your reference to ‘ancient times’ in your previous post now makes more sense.  But times have changed; in today’s modern world (over the past century or two) ‘free democracies’ have become the norm - so you can’t make direct comparisons with the past e.g. you’re not comparing like with like – one needs to look at today’s values in context.

                In that respect the article, although a good read, was oriented to Americanism e.g. the constant reference to the ‘First Amendment’ throughout the article, even when talking about ‘ancient times’, which as a non-American I found distracting and irrelevant.

                Yeah, the opening paragraph to the article supports the principle of ‘Censorship’ (when aptly applied) in its definition of censorship “…., the changing or the suppression or prohibition of speech or writing that is deemed subversive of the common good.” e.g. Government censorship during time of war.

                I looked up The Sedition Act in America; and it was actually introduced twice, 1798 (when the USA was on the brink of war with France) and again in 1918 (when the USA was at war with Germany) – albeit the introduction of The Sedition Act in the final months of WWI made it a bit superfluous.

                We didn’t have such an Act in Britain during war time, but during the war (especially WWII) there was heavy Government censorship and Government propaganda in the UK; for obvious reasons.

                But during peace time, in a free democratic democracy, one would not expect censorship to such a level; and any signs of Government heavy-handedness should and would give rise to push-back from the public e.g. civil rights campaigners.

                This video below focuses on Government censorship in WWII in both the UK & USA (and thus sums up the points I’ve tried to make above):  https://youtu.be/EivLm1fHfYw

                1. GA Anderson profile image88
                  GA Andersonposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

                  I was right to worry about getting stuck. Now my stubbornness has turned into obstinance, and that's seldom a good thing. ;-)

                  From the perspective of establishing whether an act is or isn't censorship, the America-centric structure of the article shouldn't make a difference. Nor should any particular nation-state details (cultural perspectives—such as those displayed in U.S./U.K. comparisons). Nor does 'changing times.'

                  The examples and illustrations offered a range of different society and government types: from the military government of Sparta to the democracy of the Greeks. The changing times don't change the act of censorship, they simply change the degrees of acceptable censorship and methods used to get there.

                  Consider; that relative to government censorship/control of information or actions (but minus the good or bad determination), Sparta might not be so different from WWII Germany. The efforts of The Sedition Act of 1798 might not be so different from the government's documented 2020 efforts to restrict Covid [mis]information.

                  Banning TikTok is government censorship regardless of how many 'other avenues' there are. The important question is whether it can be legitimized to the point of being an acceptable degree of censorship.


                  1. Nathanville profile image93
                    Nathanvilleposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

                    Yeah, the “America-centric structure of the article” doesn’t make a difference, other than the fact that American perspective on such matters differs to British attitudes e.g. Brits are not generally so paranoid about so called ‘Government’s hidden agendas’ – which can put a different spin on such discussions.

                    Certainly ‘changing times’ does make a difference in that in the past there wasn’t ‘free democracies’ e.g. we had the feudal system in England from 1066 to 1660.  And ‘Freedom of the Press’ wasn’t formally established by law in Great Britain until 1695.

                    Yeah, notwithstanding my comments above, broadly speaking; “The changing times don't change the act of censorship; they simply change the degrees of acceptable censorship and methods used to get there.” -  So maybe we are talking at cross purposes?

                    Yeah, both Sparta and WWII Germany were military governments, and as such are going to restrict information in the way that dictatorships do.  And yeah, The Sedition Act of 1798 in America criminalized ‘false and malicious statements about the federal government’, while the Authorities attempted to ‘restrict misinformation’ about Covid during the pandemic – so there’s a similarity there too.

                    However I still don’t see how “banning TikTok is government censorship” simply because it’s not banning ‘free speech’ as there are plenty of other social media platforms to choose from; and neither is it the ‘thin edge of the web’ because it is highly improbable that the American Government is going to ban the use of ‘social media platforms’ in general.  And besides, what is stopping an American tech company from launching an American version of ‘TikTok’ (that China doesn’t have control over), just as what happened in India?

                    In the light of the revelation that China hacked records of 40 million UK voters in 2022 from the ‘Electoral Commission’ (UK Independent Government Department), then America’s debate on whether to ban TikTok is well justified – See videos below for more info:

                    •    UK and US accuse Chinese state-linked hackers of cyber attacks https://youtu.be/DlXHL2r3J9s

                    •    UK cyber-attacks: What is China accused of and who are the groups behind it? https://youtu.be/rjubMY_XuI0

  5. Kathleen Cochran profile image76
    Kathleen Cochranposted 8 weeks ago

    The freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights applies to American citizens - not foreign entities who may pose a threat to those very freedoms. Would you have applied freedom of speech to Hitler's efforts to influence Americans?

    "all enemies foreign and domestic"

    1. GA Anderson profile image88
      GA Andersonposted 8 weeks agoin reply to this

      Who are you replying to?


      1. Credence2 profile image77
        Credence2posted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

        I support "freedom of speech" as an absolute, with the exception of the "yelling "Fire" in a crowded theatre analogy.

        People can say what they want, but I reserve the right to hold he or she accountable for what they say.

        1. GA Anderson profile image88
          GA Andersonposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

          Why is this response to me?


          1. Ken Burgess profile image76
            Ken Burgessposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

            Why not?

            1. GA Anderson profile image88
              GA Andersonposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

              Because it didn't seem relevant to any of my comments. I was still on the 'was it or wasn't it' point, I hadn't gotten to the defending or condemning part yet.


        2. Nathanville profile image93
          Nathanvilleposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

          If ‘freedom of speech’ was an absolute that would suggest there was no ‘hate crime’ laws, in which case how would you hold someone accountable for what they say; and without ‘hate crime’ laws what happens to all those vulnerable people who are harmed by ‘hate speech’?

          1. Credence2 profile image77
            Credence2posted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

            Hello, Arthur, I have not paid a lot of attention to the Tik-Tok controversy.

            But, giving due consideration to national security concerns verses the public right to right to free speech, I liked the solution you mentioned earlier. That is how I would handle it.

            "And here we are, where the American government is being accused of stifling free speech by attempting to ban TikTok, while in most of the rest of the world the use of TikTok is banned on Government devices only, but not banned for private use;"

            Government computers are not personal property and restrictions as to their use can be imposed.

            We can speak a little more about "hate speech". We are in a environment of ever incroaching tyranny and anti-Democratic, authoritarian tendencies here in America. We have "book banning" to control information and contrary ideas that Rightwinged advocates (and there are a lot of them) just as soon not have available for discussion or debate. We got a Trump,who seeks to bring back concepts of "libel" mainly to threaten those that would have the nerve to speak against him.

            I would rather that everyone have the right to say what they wish, because the justification for not allowing such would be used against me and anyone else for whom the "establishment" might consider as speaking out of turn.

            What would consider to be "hate speech" that would be prohibited?

            1. Nathanville profile image93
              Nathanvilleposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

              Thanks for the clarity - your explanation makes perfect sense, now that you have explained; yes I remember the fairly recent HP forum about the ‘book banning’ and the like by the right-wing in America.

              In reference to your question “What would consider to be "hate speech" that would be prohibited?” In my opinion I think the hate speech laws we have in England and Wales is more or less as it should be:

              Hate speech in the UK is any communication which is threatening or abusive, and is intended to harass, alarm, or distress someone or incite others to do harm, on account of a person’s:-

              •    Colour
              •    Race
              •    Sex
              •    Disability
              •    Nationality (including citizenship)
              •    Ethnic or national origin
              •    Religion
              •    Gender reassignment, or sexual orientation

              This link below gives an overview of ‘hate speech’ laws by country alphabetically; thus the UK & USA are at the bottom – I found it interesting having a glance (skim through) the list, plus (in my mind) it highlights the USA’s problem, because of its obsession with the 1st Amendment:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_spee … by_country

              1. Credence2 profile image77
                Credence2posted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

                You Brits are a genteel people, here in America guardrails are always a necessity.

                Here it is probable that more than verbal assault is necessary to prompt an arrest, some adverse physical activity has to be associated with it.

                There is the concept of hate crimes associated with crimes specifically directed toward a protected class. And even the  future of that is  in debate in many states.

                Look at Trump and the instance at his rally that he made fun of a handicapped person, he wasn't exactly booed by the audience.

                Gives you an idea of the mindset of people here and why you are fortunate to live the side of the pond that you do.

                1. Nathanville profile image93
                  Nathanvilleposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

                  Yeah I know; and it wasn’t just handicapped people that Trump made fun of; during his presidential election campaign in 2016, and during his four years rule in power, I saw various speeches from Trump where he belittled women, and in the eyes of the British Public his ‘hate speech’ against Muslims was unacceptable.

                  It was his hate speech against Muslims that had the biggest anti-Trump backlash in Britain, as follows:-

                  1.    A petition signed during the Presidential Election in 2015 by 586,930 UK citizens (of which 7,833 live in Bristol, where I live) read “The signatories believe Donald J Trump should be banned from UK entry. The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech. The same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the UK.”

                  The penultimate paragraph to the UK Government’s response to the petition read:

                  “The Prime Minister has made clear that he completely disagrees with Donald Trump’s remarks. The Home Secretary has said that Donald Trump’s remarks in relation to Muslims are divisive, unhelpful and wrong.

                  You can read the full UK Government’s response to the petition here:  https://petition.parliament.uk/archived … ons/114003 - just scroll down to the bottom of the page where is says “Read the response in full”.

                  2.    A 2nd petition signed after Trump was elected in 2016 by 1,863,708 UK citizens (of which 26,975 live in Bristol, where I live) agreed that ‘Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US Government, but that his visit should be downgraded from a ‘State Visit’ e.g. most every other foreign leader visiting the UK, including President Obama have always been given a ‘State Visit’.

                  The 2nd petition worked in that Theresa May (our then Prime Minister) had arranged a State Visit for Donald Trump; but in the light of hostility towards Trump in Britain, including mass anti-Trump demonstrations across Britain, as well as the petitions against him, the UK Government had to postpone Trump’s visit for over a year, and downgrade it to a Non-State Visit.

                  3.    It’s not unusual for foreign dignitaries to address Parliament during their State visits – even Greta Thunberg was invited to address Parliament about climate change; but, on the grounds of Trump’s anti-Muslin hate speech, the Speaker of the House of Commons took it upon himself to ban Donald Trump from speaking in Parliament during his visit to Britain – such was the strong anti-Trump feelings by Brits at the time.

                  U.K. Parliament Speaker Says Trump Not Welcome:  https://youtu.be/kUsf4KSjy88

                  1. Credence2 profile image77
                    Credence2posted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

                    After all this, a man who has not an ounce of intergrity is dangerously close to reelection, here. I just recalled being embarrassed for our country during Trump's term.

      2. Kathleen Cochran profile image76
        Kathleen Cochranposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

        GA: tsmog and the title of the article.

  6. Kathleen Cochran profile image76
    Kathleen Cochranposted 7 weeks ago

    GA: Wish I could control where my replies go, but HP has its own mysterious ways. If I am directing a reply to someone specific, I try to start with their name.

    1. GA Anderson profile image88
      GA Andersonposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

      On my HP page each comment has a choice at the bottom of the comment: "reply   permalink    report"

      If I click "reply" the comment I am responding to proceeds my comment.

      If I choose the "Post a reply" button at the bottom of the page my comment is posted as a stand-alone comment, it is not tied to any particular post.

      I didn't do anything to choose this setup so maybe HP is just making you work harder. ;-)


  7. tsmog profile image85
    tsmogposted 7 weeks ago

    Going off on a tangent relative to the threads direction of dialogue presently . . . when I proposed the OP in my weird off center mind I interpreted the situation relative to the First Amendment. In the title I placed the question "What happen to Free Speech? Assembly?"

    The First Amendment:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    For the following the authority of interpretations is from The National Constitution Center.

    First, freedom of speech; ". . . or abridging the freedom of speech, . . ." For meaning legally abridging means; "to diminish or reduce in scope".

    Question: Would removing the platform itself from public usage  meet the meaning of abridging?

    From The Constitution Center we discover;
    "Although the First Amendment says “Congress,” the Supreme Court has held that speakers are protected against all government agencies and officials: federal, state, and local, and legislative, executive, or judicial. The First Amendment does not protect speakers, however, against private individuals or organizations, such as private employers, private colleges, or private landowners. The First Amendment restrains only the government.

    Question: Is not Congress the government?

    Again, from The Constitution Center comes;
    "The Supreme Court has interpreted “speech” and “press” broadly as covering not only talking, writing, and printing, but also broadcasting, using the Internet, and other forms of expression. The freedom of speech also applies to symbolic expression, such as displaying flags, burning flags, wearing armbands, burning crosses, and the like."

    Question: Does not TikTok fulfill " broadcasting, using the Internet, and other forms of expression."

    Question: Would not " . . . and the like" regarding  'symbolic expression', not be the 15 sec to 3 minutes videos on TikToc?

    Then comes along "the right of the people peaceably to assemble,"

    From The Constitution Center we discover;
    "The “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” protects two distinct rights: assembly and petition. The Clause’s reference to a singular “right” has led some courts and scholars to assume that it protects only the right to assemble in order to petition the government. But the comma after the word “assemble” is residual from earlier drafts that made clearer the Founders’ intention to protect two separate rights. For example, debates in the House of Representatives during the adoption of the Bill of Rights linked “assembly” to the arrest and trial of William Penn for participating in collective religious worship that had nothing to do with petitioning the government.


    "Assembly is the only right in the First Amendment that requires more than a lone individual for its exercise. One can speak alone; one cannot assemble alone. Moreover, while some assemblies occur spontaneously, most do not. For this reason, the assembly right extends to preparatory activity leading up to the physical act of assembling, protections later recognized by the Supreme Court as a distinct “right of association,” which does not appear in the text of the First Amendment.

    Question: Most TikTok videos are a single individual performing or communicating something. Does that mean it is not assembly?

    Question: If someone or more than one person watches a TikTok video is that assembly of more than one person that is actually socially interacting through the watching?

    The right of assembly often involves non-verbal communication (including the message conveyed by the very existence of the group). A demonstration, picket-line, or parade conveys more than the words on a placard or the chants of the crowd. Assembly is, moreover, truly “free,” since it allows individuals to engage in mass communication powered solely by “sweat equity.”

    Question: First, we can presume, mass communication is demonstrated by social media site as a medium of mass communication. However, what is meant by 'Sweat equity'?

    Question: Is meeting and posting at TikTok equivalent to meeting at 6th avenue and Timbuctoo boulevard for the purpose of 'symbolic expression' through 'sweat equity'?

    Why wouldn't the above be protected by the First Amendment?

    From The Free Speech Center we discover, "Despite the absolute language of the First Amendment, wars, threats of wars, and perceived risks to national security have prompted the government to, at times, restrict freedom of speech and other First Amendment freedoms throughout U.S. history."

    I will not comment, yet I have questions, thus the OP. I only offer, from The Constitution Center the following article to consider;

    A national TikTok ban and the First Amendment by The National Constitution Center (Mar 22, 2024) So, is very recent.
    https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/a-n … -amendment

    There the history is presented more specific to legal issues going back to Trump days. (2020)

    Other sources are:

    Freedom of Speech and the Press by The National Constitution Center
    https://constitutioncenter.org/the-cons … ations/266

    Right to Assemble and Petition by The National Constitution Center
    https://constitutioncenter.org/the-cons … ations/267

    1. GA Anderson profile image88
      GA Andersonposted 7 weeks agoin reply to this

      Following your tangent, and definitions and links, the answer to your questions seems to be "Yes." Banning TikTok would be government censorship.

      Following that assumption, the next, and most important question is whether it is permissible censorship. That requires a determination of the true national security risk. Are the claims true in scope (are the threats real), or are the claims simply worries that they might be true?

      I don't (and I doubt anyone here does) know enough about the reality of the claims to be sure of them. They seem logical and potentially real, but that requires that we trust what our politicians are telling us.

      The last few years of information technology have shown how important and revealing a conglomeration of seemingly trivial data can be. Even a skeptic should pause before dismissing the claims of national security without consideration. Part of that consideration would be the U.S.'s programs for national metadata collection of its citizens. If we use it to the extent publically portrayed by various whistleblowers, it's not a stretch to consider the scope of China's efforts to be the danger they are claimed to be.


  8. Nathanville profile image93
    Nathanvilleposted 7 weeks ago

    Watch This Space…..

    As I write this, Julian Assange is once again in a British Court fighting his extradition to the USA:-

    Just now, as I am writing this…. “Two judges at the High Court in London have just said that they would give the United States government three weeks to provide assurances that Mr Assange could rely on the First Amendment to the US constitution (which protects free speech) and that he would not be prejudiced at trial or sentence by reason of his Australian nationality; nor would he be sentenced to death if convicted.”

    This case of Julian Assange fighting for his rights under the ‘First Amendment’ in America (Freedom of the Press), which has been dragging on since 2010, seems to show some shortcomings in the American Justice System?

    What’s your opinion?

    UK court to deliver ruling on Julian Assange extradition case to the USA: https://youtu.be/wYKP-MLtlFM


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