Many, including Rep. Ryan Zinke, (R-Mont.), who’s a former Navy SEAL, were not too fond of a Chinese state-owned balloon flying over the United States potentially for spying purposes made their voices heard about the balloon. Others viewed the Chinese balloon as potentially a red herring, thinking that while this is very on the nose and a direct spying effort, it may not compete with Chinese-owned technology, such as the social media phone app, TikTok.
Thursday, Rep. Zinke would Tweet:
“Shoot. It. Down. The Chinese spy balloon is clear provocation. In Montana we do not bow. We shoot it down. Take the shot.”
Others, while not sympathetic or condoning a Chinese state-owned balloon flying over American airspace, looked to the big picture. TikTok is currently downloaded on over two billion phones, and has over 1.2 billion monthly users.
TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, which has led to concerns about the platform’s connections to the Chinese government. Given the Chinese government’s strict censorship policies and monitoring of online activity, there have been concerns about the Chinese government’s access to and control over the data of TikTok’s millions of users, particularly those located outside of China.
Additionally, the Chinese Communist Party’s influence over Chinese companies and the Chinese government’s ability to request or demand data from these companies have raised concerns about the potential misuse of TikTok user data. While some Republicans, including then-President Donald Trump in 2020 attempted to ban the app from the United States due to the potential security issues the app creates, these attempts so far have fallen flat.
In a similar line of thought to Rep. Zinke’s Tweet, Wisconsin governor, and Young America’s Foundation President Scott Walker Tweeted that perhaps shooting down one singular balloon won’t fix the issue of Chinese spying, and more has to be done to combat it. On Thursday, Gov. Walker Tweeted:
“First, shoot it down. Second, [TikTok] is a much greater security risk to America. Shut it down,”