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The potential TikTok ban is being decided on by the wrong people

A state-level TikTok ban has been passed in Montana

Here we go again. Four years after the last time the feds tried this, TikTok is on the cusp of an effective ban forged by a host of elected officials who know about money but dangerously know nothing about technology.

My personal disdain for social media is clear. Should I ever leave AppleInsider, I will light my social media presences on fire, and walk away without looking at the explosion. In the short-term, I don't allow my children to have accounts right now — and for now, they know that I will find out if they do.

I take these measures because I believe that social media is a force for both good and evil, with a tilt towards the latter in the last 10 years. What mostly started as a quick way to share cat pictures and user statuses, has evolved to be so much more.

The assorted social media venues are capable of distributing useful information very quickly to a wide audience, and we use it here to spread our own content. Because of that rapid distribution, it has already proven to help in disasters, and propagate warnings faster than ever before.

On the other hand, beyond privacy concerns, inflammatory lies spread on every social media platform faster than the truth, poorly moderated hate prevails, and the debate rages on about the mental health impact on heavy users.

Selling TikTok to US companies allegedly in the interest of national security doesn't solve any of the above, and it won't make the US safer. That TikTok sale certainly won't magically grant users privacy, as every social media platform everywhere squeezes every single dime it legally can out of data it happily harvests from users.

Of course, we live in a world where there are other, more pressing, security matters surrounding China. Outside of actual military matters, in recent days US ports have been found to have Chinese-made cranes, packed with cellular technology, and have apparently for decades.

This hasn't been discussed on the floor, nor is there any discussion about stopping the flow of cranes to the US from China. That's a hard topic, and striking down TikTok is an easier soundbite for politicians on their favored social media venues.

The elected officials and candidates screaming for a ban are all hypocrites. Nearly of them have campaign accounts to catch the TikTok faithful, which are run by assistants who actually know something about social media.

Instead, we've got officials making decisions, who are listening more to lobbyists and sources of funding than anybody or anything else.

And, the vote on Wednesday was after the bill was available for less than three days to read. I guarantee that outside of the few assistants involved in crafting, nobody read it, or discussed the implications beyond the visibility on social media and traditional media of wrapping themselves in the flag.

I know this, because most of them have said so on social media and voted anyway.

No moral stance, only a capitalistic one

As always with technological matters, this debate and vote is more about money and how to make it, filtered through willful bipartisan ignorance about technology by our elected officials, more than it is security.

Nancy Pelosi thought she nailed it when she made an absolutely ridiculous tic-tac-toe analogy, saying that a divestiture would lead to a win.

On the other side of the aisle, presidential candidate Donald Trump is now against a ban, when he was clearly for it before while he was in-office. He's against it now because it'll help "enemy of the people" Facebook — with the latter also a prime driver behind his prior election win and potential re-election. Trump's treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said on live television that he's putting together a group to buy TikTok, which may or may not have anything to do with the new position.

Both takes are ludicrous, made by people who have absolutely no business making decisions on technology. They don't have the knowledge, they don't have the backgrounds, their formal education decades ago is irrelevant to the task at hand, and their time in federal service and/or blatant thirst for money aggravates the situation.

Worst of all, they think they've got the skill to make these decisions because they truly believe that they know best, instead of putting it to a popular vote. But, here we are again anyway.

Banning or restricting TikTok — or any other social media venue — might be the right answer to other questions, but it isn't for the one that's being posed. In many ways, selling TikTok to a US company will make many of the actual problems with social media worse.