Home Virginia Tech expert discusses Montana ban on TikTok, potential free speech challenge
US & World

Virginia Tech expert discusses Montana ban on TikTok, potential free speech challenge

twitter tiktok tik tok cell phone social media
Submitted by Virginia Tech

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill that bans TikTok in the state. The bill will levy steep fines on any platform offering a download of the Chinese-owned social media app which is extremely popular for everyone from teens to those in their 5os and 60s.

“The Montana bill that the governor signed argues for a ban based on concerns for national security, privacy concerns regarding American data, and the assertion that TikTok poses a threat to public health. Those three together could make a compelling case in the courts,” said Mike Horning, an associate professor of multimedia journalism at Virginia Tech’s School of Communication. “The legal test will be whether the government can demonstrate enough evidence to show that all three concerns are compelling enough to override any First Amendment issues.”

Horning’s research examines how communication technologies impact social attitudes and behaviors, with a current focus on the impact of “fake news” and misinformation on our democratic processes.

Civil rights groups are expected to challenge the ban citing First Amendment grounds.

“Generally, the government cannot ban protected forms of speech,” said Horning. “The ban could also have an economic impact on individuals who use the platform for business purposes, contributing to make this move unpopular with the public. At the same time, the government has been successful at banning some communication technologies in the past with the argument that the technology posed a national security threat.”

Some Americans spend hours on the social media platform every day. The question remains as to if its possible to stop Americans from using TikTok.

“It might be, over time. Apps often need updating, thus limiting access through the Apple and Google stores could eventually make the apps on current phones unusable,” said Horning. “At the same time, people can be creative in finding workarounds if they feel that app is important enough to use on a daily basis.”

The political case against TikTok sidesteps U.S. government spying on its own citizens

Let’s stop TikTok: Safeguarding American user data means quitting social media platform

War on TikTok: Lawmakers introduce legislation to monitor technology

States ask for help with TikTok investigation into conduct related to children, teens

White House demands removal of TikTok from government devices in 30 days or less

Cybersecurity task force weighs in on safety of TikTok for small businesses

Youngkin issues executive order banning TikTok from state government phones

TikTok at your own discretion: Site banned in several states on government devices

TikTok trend? Waynesboro Police respond to report of unprovoked punches

Sen. Warner: TikTok a ‘huge national security threat’ that FTC needs to investigate

Senators call for TikTok investigation in response to Chinese Communist Party’s access to U.S. data

Better Business Bureau: New TikTok scams target minors

From TikTok videos to Duck Pond lectures, professors get creative

House passes Spanberger legislation to ban TikTok on TSA phones

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.