I’m conflicted on whether it’s a good idea for the U.S. to ban TikTok unless the Chinese government agrees to sell it. On the one hand, there are important First Amendment principles at stake. On the other, it doesn’t strike me that we’re required to allow China to direct propaganda at American users lest we somehow fall short in our dedication to freedom of expression.

That said, Mike Masnick of TechDirt has weighed in with a hot-blooded commentary arguing that banning TikTok would be a grotesquely wrong move. Here’s the heart of it:

The US has dealt with foreign propaganda for ages. And we don’t ban it. Part of free speech is that you have to deal with the fact that nonsense propaganda and disinformation exists. There are ways to deal with it and respond to it that don’t involve banning speech. It’s astounding to me how quickly people give up their principles out of a weird, xenophobic fear that somehow China has magic pixie dust hidden within TikTok to turn Americans’ brains to mush.

I’m sympathetic to Masnick’s argument and have yet to be convinced that the ban is a good idea. And I’m definitely not going to be convinced because House members have been shown secret information that the rest of us aren’t privvy to.

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