Event Recaps

It’s More Than Just TikTok: A Virtual Panel with National Security and Technology Experts

Over the last two years, Congress has banned TikTok on government devices, Montana’s state government has banned the app within its borders, and some members of Congress have proposed a policy that would ban the platform nationwide. However, when it comes to the ways that social media exposes Americans to attacks and manipulations by foreign adversaries, the problem doesn’t lie with just one platform. On Wednesday, October 4, 2023, Issue One’s Council for Responsible Social Media (CRSM) hosted an event that convened experts in national security, technology, and democracy to discuss the national security threats posed by social media, and how we can move beyond single-platform bans to comprehensive solutions.



The panel, moderated by former U.S. Congresswoman and journalist Cheri Bustos, featured CRSM members Secretary Leon Panetta, Nicole Tisdale, and Dr. Herb Lin. Secretary Panetta has served as Secretary of Defense, director of the CIA, White House Chief of Staff, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and as a U.S. Representative from California. Ms. Tisdale is a national security expert with fourteen years of service at The White House National Security Council and the U.S. Congress House Committee on Homeland Security. Dr. Lin is a senior research scholar for cyber policy and security at Stanford University, and Chief Scientist Emeritus for the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies.


The speakers highlighted that American tech companies have a responsibility to protect against the threats to national security that their platforms pose — the problem is not just with foreign-owned companies like TikTok. As Ms. Tisdale stated during the discussion, “It’s like a dam leaking in multiple places, and [by only banning TikTok] we are only fixing one of the holes.”

The panel also emphasized the ways in which unchecked artificial intelligence (AI) poses a threat to our national security. Deepfakes are running rampant on social media platforms, and as Dr. Lin emphasized during the discussion, the AI-generated content is getting harder to catch.

In terms of solutions, the panelists concluded that legislation is needed to combat these harms. Secretary Panetta also suggested the creation of a combined task force between public and private agencies/entities. Most importantly, panelists agreed that the public needs to be made aware, via credible sources, of false information trends that are emerging, and how to think more critically about the information being propped up in social media feeds.

Watch a recording of the event.