In addition to suspending the Constitution, the Biden administration is still trying to persuade more Americans to take coronavirus vaccines. Its efforts have turned to a predictable place: social media:
. . . The government is also relying upon young, attractive TikTok influencers. The Biden administration is actively recruiting an “influencer army” to promote vaccines to Gen-Zers.
According to the New York Times, high school student Ellie Zeiler, a 17-year-old TikToker with over 10 million followers, was approached by the White House with an interesting offer. Zeiler was requested to partake in a campaign to entice her followers and other young people to get vaccinated.
About 50 Twitch streamers, YouTubers and TikTokers with large followings, including the very popular 18-year-old star, Olivia Rodrigo, have joined up. Some states and local municipalities have started similar campaigns. They are paying “local micro influencers” up to $1,000 a month to spread the word.
But why is the Biden administration promoting TikTok, a social-media app with extremely shady connections to the Chinese government? Last year, the Trump administration attempted to ban the app in the U.S. on national-security grounds. Earlier this year, Joe Biden rescinded this order. Now, we are stuck with an app that is both likely compromised by the Chinese government (and dominated by Zoomers — but that’s another matter).
There is a better way. Now, before I suggest this, let me reiterate that the Biden CDC’s unilateral extension of an eviction moratorium is flagrantly unconstitutional and should be fought, overturned, and undone forthwith. But momentarily entertain as a thought experiment what one could do in this realm where the government has decided to interpret federal law so broadly as to allow for unilateral regulation of every rental transaction in the nation.
In such a realm, there might be a case not only for banning TikTok over its questionable ties to the regime that brought coronavirus into the world, but also for using government resources to resurrect a defunct alternative to TikTok: Vine.
Vine was TikTok before TikTok, a Twitter-linked app that allowed for the rapid creation and promulgation of quick, fun videos. It died a few years ago, but not before it worked its way fondly into the hearts of millions of young people, who still remember and compile its many greatest hits. (Twitter execs apparently regret the decision to kill Vine, particularly in the wake of TikTok’s success.) Even before or without coronavirus, you could have squinted and seen a national-security case for reviving Vine as a competitor/alternative to the insidious TikTok. National security has been recognized as an area for allowable exceptions to free-market systems. Even Adam Smith wrote that it may be necessary to make such exceptions “when some particular sort of industry is necessary for the defence of the country.”
Now there are both national-security and epidemiological reasons to resurrect Vine. We need a homegrown source of pointlessly fun, distracting videos to combat the hollowing out of our meme-industrial base, which is currently being compromised by a Chinese-government-linked app. We also need an American app to help persuade Millennials and Zoomers to get vaccinated against a virus that originated thanks to the same government whose connection to TikTok that app has been coy about, to say the least.
You may scoff at the ridiculousness of this policy. But is it any more ridiculous than what the government has already done with the powers the pandemic has enabled it to grab? Obviously, these powers should be clawed back. But, again, operating in the theoretical realm in which we assume that does not happen . . . why shouldn’t the Biden administration resurrect Vine?