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All things TikTok
Forecasts and opinions, reviewed.
Welcome to Nonrival, the newsletter where readers make predictions.
How it works
On Sundays, read the newsletter and make a forecast by clicking a link at the bottom.
On Wednesdays, see what other readers predicted and how your forecast compares.
Over time, you’ll get scores based on how accurate your forecasts are.
In this issue
TikTok forecasts and opinions, reviewed
I'm on vacation so no email for the next two weeks. See you in mid-April
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The TikTok question
Congress probably won't pass a law by Aug. to set up a TikTok ban: the average forecast was 39%, with most saying it was unlikely.
But should the US ban TikTok?
Nonrival readers are divided on this one!
44% agree it should be banned
27% are uncertain
At the bottom of the email you can see how readers agree/disagree with individual parts of the argument for a TikTok ban that was presented on Sunday. But first, here are your forecasts:
How your forecast compares
The average reader forecast was 39%.
If you got this newsletter via email you’d see your forecast here!
What other readers said
1%: There doesn't appear to be a consensus in Congress on why or how to ban TikTok (let alone understanding of how the internet or smartphones work), and with an election year coming up, Dems need the Gen Z vote and will lose it if they ban an app that is popular with them.
10%: I understand the Senate has a bill in process now but I don't see why progress on this would suddenly pick up after a couple years of inaction. In the longer term I do think that something gets passed (either a ban, a sale, or technical changes) but not by the deadline in the question.
10%: Every company you allow into your computer tracks and sells your data to the highest bidder already. The “Red Scare” is exactly that. The politicians will trump up rules and “new safety” guardrails to show that they are doing something about this huge Trojan Horse. Meanwhile Fox News, and other propaganda machines will do ten times the damage to our country that China could ever do with our shopping information or IP addresses. Not that there shouldn’t be more regulations to protect our privacy, but does anyone really think that Congress is actually capable of effectively doing that?
40%: TikTok has very few friends in Congress and the House already voted to ban it. Makes sense that the inertia is towards banning it. But there are just so many Americans impacted by it either because they use it to teach or distract their kids or run a side hustle. A sale seems more likely. And any law will face challenges that won't be sorted by August.
55%: Banning specific companies almost certainly violates the constitutional provisions against bills of attainder. But it's rarely a winning bet to think the government won't violate the constitution.
90%: It would have been banned several years ago if not for presidential election politics. The same motivations that have led the Biden administration the drag their feet (not admit Trump was right) will motivate them to take this issue off the table before the 2024 election.
But *should* the US ban TikTok?
Here was the argument readers reacted to. Next to each premise I've put the percentage of readers who Agree or Strongly Agree:
"TikTok answers to the Chinese Communist Party... Chinese private-sector companies may be nominally autonomous from the government, but when it comes to national security, they are mere arms of the CCP." 78% agree
"In practice, this means Beijing could weaponize the inordinate amount of user data collected by TikTok (including location and browsing data) to spy on American citizens." 76% agree
"Beijing could also commandeer TikTok’s algorithm to push disinformation." 79% agree
"While the remedies proposed by ByteDance — such as having a US company handle all US data and committing to adhere to strict privacy and security practices in the US — may solve the data protection issue, nothing short of an outright ban can mitigate the malign influence challenge." 19% agree
Therefore, the US should ban TikTok. 44% agree
I'm off for the next two weekends, traveling. See you in mid-April! Thanks for reading. And consider forwarding this email to a friend in the meantime! Anything you can do to spread the word really helps.