💔 Trump’s TikTok war may literally break the internet

President Donald Trump’s recent internet crusade isn’t just about the Chinese companies TikTok and Tencent. The long-term effects could be more far-reaching and turn the internet into a far less open space, according to the New York Times.

  • The U.S. has taken a hands-off approach to the internet for decades: Unlike China, it has been defined by openness, allowing American IP addresses to access almost any website and app and encouraging by example other countries to do the same. 

  • But the TikTok tiff has introduced the concept of reciprocity to the internet: It’s how the United States has often run foreign policy. For the internet, reciprocity could mean the U.S. favoring domestic internet companies over others and foreign countries retaliating by disfavoring U.S. internet companies.   

The result could be a fractured internet and a U.S. that looks more like China

People growing up in China already have little to no idea about websites like Facebook and Twitter. Could the U.S. continue to shun the next big websites out of China or other countries it competes with? 

The Verdict

Some experts say the U.S. has already made the turn toward internet reciprocity, arguing that the TikTok ban is less about TikTok than getting back at China for banning so many American websites. But Clete Willems, an attorney at Akin Gump and a former member of the Trump administration, said, “We’re not just copying their playbook. The administration is trying to respond to what it sees as a legitimate security threat.”