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Pelosi Sets off Online Firestorm After Bizarre House Speech

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Former Speaker of the House and California Democrat Rep. Nancy Pelosi set the Internet ablaze with a speech about the video-sharing app TikTok.

The former Speaker gave a speech supporting the legislation that many have said is designed to ban TikTok. Using an analogy to the game tic-tac-toe, she said that it would improve the app, not ban it.

“I have a few points to make, and it’s interesting to hear this respectful debate. First of all, this is not a ban on TikTok. I’m a grandmother of teenagers. I understand the entertainment value, the educational value, the communication value, and the business value for some businesses on this,” the Speaker Emeritus said.

“This is not an attempt to ban TikTok. It’s an attempt to make TikTok better. Tic-tac-toe, a winner. A winner,” she said.

“And here’s what I have to say: the people of China have come forth.  The Tibetans have come forth and said on TikTok in China they are suppressed.  They cannot put their message out.  Not only that, the Chinese government misrepresents the situation in Tibet,” the former Speaker said.

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“In Hong Kong – well, let me just tell you about Hong Kong.  During the Taiwan election, TikTok, TikTok-ed into Taiwan that the Uyghurs, on whom there is a genocide exercised by the Chinese government – they have told the people in Taiwan that the Uyghurs like that genocide.  And they told them that the people of Hong Kong like the destruction of their democracy.  They don’t frame it that way, but that’s their message.  And again, suppressing the communication from Tibet,” she said.

“And then, just yesterday on the steps, we heard from the Taiwan people, we heard from the Tibetans, we heard from the Hong Kong [people], and we heard from a woman whose husband was arrested because of his communication with somebody with a shared view,” the California representative said.

“So, this is controlled by the Chinese communist government.  But forgetting that, if you can – I can’t – think of this: the algorithm.  The Chinese government will control the algorithm.  They can change it anytime, coming into the United States.  I urge a ‘yes’ vote,” she said.

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Her speech was met with hilarious responses on X, formerly Twitter.

“I think she’s drunk again folks,” one X user said.

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“If Pelosi likes it, there is something awful hidden within this bill,” another said.

Former President Donald Trump, who supported a ban on TikTok when he was president, has changed his opinion on the idea.

“TikTok, a video-sharing mobile application owned by the Chinese company ByteDance Ltd., has reportedly been downloaded over 175 million times in the United States and over one billion times globally.  TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including Internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories.  This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage,” he said in an executive order “addressing the threat posed by TikTok” when he was president.

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“TikTok also reportedly censors content that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive, such as content concerning protests in Hong Kong and China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.  This mobile application may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party, such as when TikTok videos spread debunked conspiracy theories about the origins of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus,” he said.

“These risks are real.  The Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, and the United States Armed Forces have already banned the use of TikTok on Federal Government phones.  The Government of India recently banned the use of TikTok and other Chinese mobile applications throughout the country; in a statement, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology asserted that they were “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.”  American companies and organizations have begun banning TikTok on their devices.  The United States must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security,” he said.

But last week in an interview with CNBC he changed his stance.

“Frankly, there are a lot of people on TikTok that love it,” he said. “There are a lot of young kids on TikTok who will go crazy without it. There are a lot of users, a lot of good, and there’s a lot of bad with TikTok.”

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