Is Using TikTok to Interfere with Campaign Rallies Illegal?
A Legal Expert's View on Communist China and Election Interference.
Donald Trump's rally in Tulsa was a watershed moment. It sparked the re-start of the 2020 campaign in the age of COVID-19. It also highlighted the dangerous use of foreign companies to interfere with the race. The same thing the Democrats complained about in 2016 is now starting. But CNN isn't complaining about it at all. Below we look at the legal implications of the action against the Trump campaign.
Liberal and Marxist activists used multiple means to undermine President Trump's Rally in Tulsa on Saturday. Reportedly, the President had over 1 million people sign up for his campaign event. Instead, most of the ticket getters were fakes. Online activists, ANTIFA college kids, and other young people used apps like TikTok to spread the word about seeking fake tickets. As a result of the coordinated action, far fewer than the anticipated million showed. Much of the arena was instead empty.
The Background and Importance of the Rally.
The campaign rally happened during the new launch of the 2020 campaign. Stymied by the spread of the Coronavirus, this was a chance for the Trump campaign to get the public excited about the race. However, due to the actions of those online, it did not come to pass. The President had a lot riding on the event in Tulsa. After months inside, many of Trump's supporters sought a chance to see him in action again. Considering that there had not been any Trump or Biden events for over three months, it was a watershed moment in the campaign.
Using TikTok as Foreign Interference?
Generally speaking, using an online app to buy tickets for an event would not be a legal question. Even signing up for the service under false pretenses would normally not get the attention of law enforcement or civil lawsuits. However, there are several key issues at play here.
- The support of the Mainstream media and politicians. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez supported the effort, saying that the Trump campaign was "ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations." The same happened with CNN's Brian Stelter, who gloated over the snafu.
- The hypocrisy over crowd size. The Trump campaign didn't get the response that it wanted. However, that didn't stop over a week of hand wringing that the event would spread Coronavirus. The same happened after the media and Democrats praised protesters for Black Lives Matters marches.
- The ownership of TikTok. This wasn't just a case of people using phones, Twitter, and Facebook to disrupt the rally. TikTok was a key element of the strategy. There's one major issue-- both ethically and legally. TikTok is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. As a result, the People's Republic of China just received invaluable info on people's voting habits and personal data. This could be used for any sort of nefarious purposes. Furthermore, this represents a foreign company owned by a hostile nation interfering with the process of our election. If it was good enough to launch an investigation against President Trump then-- why wouldn't it be now?
Communist China is interfering in our democracy-- and it shows. After Trump's harsh rhetoric against Chinese trade deception, it is not surprising. Repeatedly, it's been shown that Joe Biden is just soft on China. His record as Vice President is a weak one-- and one that China would be happy to have in the White House.
But is it Illegal?
This is the key question. The evidence that I've seen so far shows that it is certainly unethical to use such a tool to disrupt our democratic process. However, the issue of use is more of a root and stem issue. The individual users on TikTok are likely not breaking the law. However, companies that host TikTok videos, like Twitter and Facebook are running the risk of accepting foreign in-kind dollars related to an election.
And that is strictly illegal. New legislation to regulate the social media giants may just prove President Trump's point: Communist China has a clear target-- and that's him.