WRAL Drops the Ball on NC GOP TikTok Panic Story

WRAL has a report out this morning that state representative Republican leaders Jason Saine and Jon Hardister have their underwear in a tangle about TikTok, calling on Governor Cooper to ban the social media app from state-owned devices, calling it a “matter of national security”. They say if Cooper doesn’t act, they move to create a law with such a ban next year.

Cooper spokesman Jordan Monaghan said the state is "constantly updating guidance to ensure cyber security and is reviewing state government use of TikTok and considering potential additional safety measures."

TikTok's media relations office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment sent through the company's website.

WRAL isn’t quite giving you all the background on this story, however.

Banning TikTok was a pet issue of Trump in the summer of 2020. In the lead up to the election, K-pop fans used the platform to organize drives to order tickets to Trump rallies, then, of course, didn’t show up, leaving hundreds of empty seats at Trump’s venues.

Trump signed an Executive Order in August 2020, banning TikTok transactions if the company didn’t divest itself of Chinese backers. That set off another Executive Order and lawsuits, and charges back and further over possible Chinese government monitoring of US citizen data on TikTok.

TikTok has seen bans by several GOP-led state governments in 2020 and 2022, including Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. GOPers Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley pushed legislation to ban TikTok on government devices.

What’s lost in all this rumbling about TikTok is the gathering and selling of personal data by US based Internet companies, such as Google and Meta (Facebook). Meta, if you’ll recall, is facing a lawsuit about mishandling of consumer data used by Cambridge Analytics for illegal election influencing.

Cambridge Analytica, by the way, was used in North Carolina in the 2014 election by Thom Tillis and the NC GOP. Where’s the outrage and investigations over that?

And you don’t hear a peep from any of the GOPers pushing the TikTok ban about the serious International security concerns over the Saudi money backing Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter. Musk’s firing of staffers overseeing consent decrees over misuse of consumer data is particularly troubling.

The WRAL report is yet another example of a North Carolina media outlet basically taking a press release from the GOP, asking for comment from the Democratic side, but not really giving you all the information you need to know about the issue.

Is this really about “national security” or is this effort by the NC GOP a way to settle an old Trump score and make sure a major social media platform isn’t used to organize an effort against Trump or another extremist candidate like DeSantis?