Part of the “Biden in the Basement 2.0 strategy”? The Biden administration tried to seize unprecedented access to TikTok data and potential censorship power.
The infamous TikTok app, owned by Chinese ByteDance, was in negotiations with the Biden administration, supposedly to resolve national security concerns. But the U.S. government reportedly sought to grab some of the same powers that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has over TikTok, raising questions about government censorship and data access both in China and by the U.S. federal government. President Joe Biden’s team has recruited TikTok influencers this year for his 2024 re-election campaign despite the national security risks, in what MRC’s Dan Schneider called “Biden in the Basement 2.0.”
Forbes reported on Aug. 21 it just obtained a draft of a still-unfinalized agreement between TikTok and the U.S. government from last year. Forbes also reported exchanges between ByteDance lawyers and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). It is not immediately clear whether the Biden administration is still making the same demands or if it amended those demands.
The Biden administration sought veto power over ByteDance vendor products, unilateral ability to alter contract provisions, and potential censorship power. Ironically, representatives of ByteDance — which censors content to please the CCP — objected to giving the Biden administration the ability “to censor or distort” online speech.
“But in trying to prevent foreign interference with TikTok, the draft agreement could give the U.S. government some of the same types of power that it fears the Chinese government could abuse,” Forbes wrote. It noted ByteDance trying to prevent “the government from demanding changes to TikTok’s recommendation algorithm simply because it recommended content that the government does not like.”
This is particularly interesting in light of Biden’s effort to use TikTok for election campaigning. MRC Free Speech America VP Schneider previously slammed the new “Biden in the Basement” strategy and said, “In fact, they’re feeding into the threat of China, you know, using TikTok. It’s just shocking.”
There are major national security concerns with TikTok. The CCP owns a board seat and maintains a financial stake in TikTok’s parent company ByteDance. Indeed, whistleblower testimony and other terrifying evidence demonstrates a clear risk from TikTok, including the CCP’s sinister access to user data. Not only that, but TikTok has been caught censoring content to please the Chinese Communist Party before.
Conservatives are under attack. Contact TikTok via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and demand Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment and provide transparency. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.