Opinion: Why TikTok Deserves to be Banned

With over a billion active users across 150 nations, Rene-Philippe Dubout delves into the concerns surrounding TikTok, censorship and international criticism of the app.

Mar 25, 2024 | By Rene Philippe Dubout
Image courtesy of Dado Ruvic/Reuters

TikTok is having its “crocodile tears” moment. TikTok is showing insincere concern and “sorrow” as a response to the criticism and challenges it currently faces, especially regarding the issues of content moderation, data privacy, and the platform’s impact on youth and political discourse. This article pertains to the ethics of allowing TikTok to be free-rein internationally while China protects its youth from similar content risks. It challenges the notion of China criticising international responses to TikTok, the violation of freedom of speech, given its restrictive domestic policies on the freedom of speech.

Any expressions of regret, concern, or attempts to address these issues might not be genuinely motivated by a desire to effect change or protect users but could instead be a strategic move to mitigate backlash, and regulatory scrutiny, or to maintain its user base and market position.

The shepherd’s reply to the shepherdess

Examining how US Social Media Companies are treated in China.

Image courtesy of Sopa Images/Lightrocket Via Getty Images (Forbes)

Microsoft, Google, and Instagram (owned by Meta Platforms, formerly Facebook) have distinct operating conditions in China, due to the country’s stringent internet regulations and censorship practices known as the “Great Firewall.”

  • Microsoft operates in China but with restrictions and adaptations to comply with local laws. Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, is available in China, albeit with censored search results. Microsoft also offers its cloud services through a local partnership to comply with Chinese regulations.
  • Google significantly scaled back its operations in China in 2010, moving its search engine services to Hong Kong due to concerns over censorship and cyber-attacks. Currently, most of Google’s services, including its search engine and YouTube, are blocked in China. Google does maintain some business activities in China, such as advertising sales and development work on Android and other software.
  • Instagram was blocked in China in 2014 during the Hong Kong protests. Like many other Western social media platforms, it remains inaccessible in mainland China without the use of VPNs or other methods to circumvent the Great Firewall.

Therefore, what the Congress is doing is just tit-for-tat. Nothing else.

Trash TikTok VS Responsible TikTok


Then there is a huge disparity in content standards and regulatory oversight between China’s Douyin and the international TikTok platform. The crux of this argument suggests that TikTok, as a product of a Chinese company (ByteDance), could potentially serve the interests of the Chinese government, especially when comparing the content and regulatory environments of Douyin versus TikTok.

  • Educational and Protective Measures in China: It is factual that Douyin, serving the Chinese market, adheres strictly to the content regulations imposed by Chinese authorities. These regulations ensure that content is heavily monitored for educational value and appropriateness for younger audiences. The Chinese government’s tight control over digital content aims to protect minors from what it considers harmful influences (Trash TikTok for example), ensuring that educational and wholesome content is promoted.
  • Contrast with International Content Concerns: On the international stage, TikTok has faced criticism for the perceived proliferation of content that may not be as rigorously moderated. This includes accusations of spreading “trash” content. Videos that are considered unproductive, harmful, or inappropriate for younger audiences. Critics argue that this discrepancy points to a double standard in how ByteDance manages content for domestic and international audiences, potentially reflecting differing priorities or regulatory pressures.

TikTok at the service of the Chinese government

The assertion that TikTok functions as a tool of the Chinese government taps into broader debates about the influence of state-affiliated companies on global platforms.

Concerns have been raised in various countries about the potential for such platforms to be used for soft power projection, surveillance, or spreading content that could sway public opinion or undermine social norms. These fears are compounded by the opaque nature of content moderation practices and the regulatory environments in which these companies operate.

In essence, the difference in content quality and regulatory rigor between Douyin and TikTok raises significant questions about the responsibilities of global tech companies in safeguarding users, especially minors, from harmful content. The issue underscores the challenges facing societies in managing the impact of digital platforms on public discourse, youth development, and national security.

So the Chinese government can restrict the local TikTok version to protect their nation’s children, teenagers and population against harmful content, but it should be free to spill its “trash” on us? Have the Chinese government-run a full version of TikTok in China before criticising what is happening in the USA.

Opening One’s Eyes

Image courtesy of Sopa Images/Lightrocket Via Getty Images (Forbes)

China’s TikTok has no lesson to give to anyone when it comes to freedom of speech. It’s true TikTok might be fun, but it is no friend to us. China’s TikTok is spreading harmful content, hopefully all occidental democracies will follow in the US Congress step. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have an opinion on Why TikTok Deserves to be Banned!

This article first appeared on

*The author Rene-Philippe Dubout is a Swiss lawyer that specialises in fintech licensing and fintech-related matters: Head to  For any inquiries or further information, or contact him at

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