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TikTok is taking the US government to court in a showdown of free speech vs. national security

Dan DeFrancesco   

TikTok is taking the US government to court in a showdown of free speech vs. national security
  • This post originally appeared in the Insider Today newsletter.

Halfway to the weekend! Who says the housing market is tough? You can buy this lovely home in France for checks notes $454 million.

In today's big story, we're discussing TikTok's lawsuit against the US government to stop its potential ban — and asking you to pick a side.

What's on deck:

But first, see you in court.

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The big story

A suit over swiping

Here. We. Go.

From the moment the ink was dry on the law banning TikTok in the US, barring a sale, a legal fight was sure to follow. Two weeks later, the popular app answered the bell.

TikTok and its parent company ByteDance filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the federal government, write Business Insider's Dan Whateley and Geoff Weiss.

The legal battle set to unfold is a fascinating who's who of major business topics. Government regulation of tech? Check. US-China tensions? Check. The future of the creator economy? Check.

And the knock-on effects extend beyond TikTok, impacting everything from President Joe Biden's reelection campaign to Apple and Tesla.

But don't expect things to wrap up quickly. It'll take time for all of this to work its way through the courts. (As always, the real winners are the lawyers.)

The TikTok-US government fight pits two pillars of American society against each other: free speech and national security.

Let's look at both arguments and then you pick a side.

The case for banning TikTok: The past decade taught us the incredible power of social media, from the data it collects on users to the information it pushes out to them. We also know foreign actors have leveraged social media to interfere with an election.

TikTok plays on both those fears. Not only is it a massively popular app that users seem to lose track of time on. Its parent company is based in Beijing, the capital of a country the US is not on the best terms with.

With young people turning to TikTok for news — and China reportedly trying to influence US elections — you start to see where the concerns are coming from. (One legal expert told BI the law had a 70% chance of surviving a legal challenge.)

The case against banning TikTok: To borrow (and alter) a famous movie line, "Show me the evidence!"

We can talk until we're blue in the face about the Chinese Communist Party potentially forcing ByteDance to share TikTok's US user data or influence operations on its behalf. But the US government hasn't provided evidence that's happening. And TikTok maintains its data is safe and separate from outside influence.

Meanwhile, TikTok has helped plenty of users earn money and launch full-blown careers seemingly overnight.

And who's to say this stops with TikTok?

The threat of foreign influence might make the TikTok ban easier to swallow. But what happens the next time the government wants to exert some control over social media?

Regulators haven't been shy about going after Big Tech. A successful TikTok ban could open the door for more aggressive actions against others in tech.

So, which side do you fall on?

Vote here.

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  1. Citi's Jane Fraser isn't sold on a soft landing. The bank's CEO remains hopeful the Fed can stick an economic soft landing, but acknowledged how hard it is. In the meantime, inflation is hitting lower-income Americans thef hardest, Fraser said.
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  1. Mark Zuckerberg once considered acquiring the Associated Press. Between 2017 and 2018, with Facebook under scrutiny for its role in the misinformation surrounding the 2016 election, Zuckerberg considered acquiring or permanently funding the AP.
  2. New iPads are here. Apple unveiled new iPad Air models, as well as iPad Pros with M4 chips and the first OLED display in the iPad lineup. The company also showed off new iPad accessories, like a $129 Pencil Pro and a new Magic Keyboard.
  3. OpenAI destroyed a trove of books used to train its AI model. Newly unsealed documents in the class action lawsuit brought by the Authors Guild against the startup revealed it had deleted two huge datasets, named "books1" and "books2," that had been used to train its GPT-3 AI model. The documents also showed that the two researchers who created the datasets are no longer employed by OpenAI.

3 things in business

  1. Good luck trying to sell your home this summer. The age of insane bidding wars and huge concessions is coming to an end. As buyers' options slowly increase, sellers may have to slash asking prices or wait longer for a viable offer to come along.
  2. Bob Iger has a new plan for Marvel. In Disney's earnings call, Iger announced plans to limit the number of Marvel shows and movies released each year. The company also reported mostly strong earnings, but its stock fell as much as 11% after announcing lighter-than-expected subscriber numbers.
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The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, deputy editor and anchor, in New York. Jordan Parker Erb, editor, in New York. Hallam Bullock, senior editor, in London. George Glover, reporter, in London.

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