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Supporters of Montana TikTok ban say threats outweigh benefits

TikTok to limit premature claims of victory on Election Day
Posted at 5:02 PM, Mar 22, 2023

BOZEMAN - A bill that could ban TikTok in Montana is being considered by the state legislature, and supporters of the ban say security is more important than entertainment.

Bozeman resident Jere Ellison says losing TikTok wouldn't affect his use of social media.

“It's not a huge issue in terms of like, quality of life, but it'd be nice to get videos from a site that's not going to be feeding information to China," says Ellison. "Like there's plenty of other media sources that are just going to feed the same videos anyway.”

TikTok gained most of its popularity in 2019 and became one of the most popular apps.

The bill to ban Tik Tok in the state has successfully passed the Montana Senate and is now heading to the House.

In a statement released a couple of weeks ago, Senator Shelley Vance said, "The application is a major threat to our national security."

The Montana Department of Justice would fine app stores or TikTok $10,000 each day the app remains on app stores.

Digital Progress Institute President Joel Thayer says Tik Tok is potentially being used as a weapon by the Chinese Government.

“TikTok may be used as a tool to potentially spy on everyday Americans,” says Thayer. “You have the Chinese government that is clearly looking to militarize their own A.I. machines, and they are attempting to find ways to gather data that would be helpful to inform their own A.I. capabilities.”

Thayer says TikTok has around 80 million users, and most of them are children.

“There are elements of a criminal contingent that likes to use these types of social media platforms to entice children into child pornography and even get them into sex trafficking,” says Thayer.

He believes that this issue is fairly bipartisan with both the Trump and Biden administrations looking into these issues.

Montana has already banned the use of this app on government devices, and Thayer thinks that if the bill passes, Tik Tok won't just be taken from the app store.

“My instinct is that when it's removed from the App Store, it actually can be removed off the phone itself. So it becomes like a dead app,” says Thayer.

As for Ellison, he won't really be phased by the change.

“I mean, it wouldn't be the worst thing," says Ellison.

The bill was sent to the Judiciary Committee on March 15 and it needs to be passed by the Montana House and signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte before any changes can occur.