(Opinion) Banning TikTok diminishes our freedom of speech

Government overreach is not the American way

The First Amendment prevents Congress from impeding on Americans’ right to free speech. TikTok provides users with the ability to communicate with others, build communities and express themselves. While it may not be traditional, TikTok is a fundamental platform for speech in the digital age. Lawmakers cannot be allowed to ban TikTok and disregard the protections given to all Americans under the Constitution.

As a concerned citizen, I feel as though it is my duty to speak on behalf of New Hampshire citizens. Millions of Americans use TikTok daily, including small businesses and creators that depend on the app. Federal lawmakers in Washington may not realize the impact a TikTok ban would have on their constituents, but I cannot ignore this reality. Kingston is home to dozens of small businesses, many of these owners I know well and care for. Banning TikTok is more than just a political stance; it would mean hurting my fellow community members.

Further, I am a strong supporter of the right to free speech. All Americans deserve to express themselves and not feel as though lawmakers are preventing them from doing so. TikTok connects over 150 million Americans and has the capacity to create several streams of communication simultaneously. Why should it be singled out, while so many other social media platforms pose greater risks?

TikTok has worked with the U.S. government for years to protect user data and privacy. Ultimately, using TikTok is a personal decision. The government does not and should not control the apps we have on our phone or the ways we communicate.

Government overreach is not the American way, and it is not the Republican way. Members of the Republican Party like myself need to consider what a ban on TikTok would really mean.

Out of the 150 million users in the U.S., 138 million are of age to vote. With that, many of these users are young voters. They use the app not just for entertainment but to engage on social and political issues. As young people are continuing to vote blue in increasing numbers, TikTok can provide a necessary avenue to reach new audiences and grow the next generation of the Republican Party. As of now, 52 percent of Generation Z voters identify as Independent and 31 percent identify as Democratic. Sen. Rand Paul may have said it best: we could “continuously lose elections for a generation” by banning TikTok.

Lawmakers cannot ban TikTok. Once Congress goes down this path, it will be nearly impossible to recover. And if you think a TikTok ban doesn’t affect you, think about this: If Congress is permitted to violate Americans’ constitutional rights by banning TikTok, what is left to protect our freedom?

The right to choose and speak freely is one that should be heavily protected at all costs. Opposing a ban on TikTok is about more than an app; it’s about safeguarding our rights and building our future.

Kevin St. James lives in Kingston.

Categories: Opinion