Ethics Dunce: National Guardsman Jon Lynch

There is no excuse for this.

New Hampshire-based Air National Guardsman Jon Lynch made a promotional ad for the social media platform TikTok, announcing,

“My name is Jon Lynch, and I’m a member of the National Guard. I use my TikTok channel to spread helpful and useful information to benefit military members and their families. TikTok allows me to give other military members and other families these experiences to appreciate this life that they’re in.”

TikTok is a popular app that allows users to upload their short videos, sometimes leading to lucrative social media stardom. It is owned by the China-based ByteDance technology company. TikTok is believed to be a source of data on Americans and American institutions for the Chinese government, as well as a potent propaganda vehicle.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) signed a letter to National Guard Bureau Chief Daniel Hokanson expressing their concern regarding Lynch’s plug, saying in part,

“Chinese intelligence and security services use TikTok to surveil, exploit, and manipulate the American people….This is extremely concerning given the known threats TikTok poses to Americans-especially so as TikTok is now banned on all U.S. Government devices….The National Guard plays an integral role in carrying out the National Defense Strategy, which correctly identifies China as our most consequential strategic competitor: Not only does TikTok play a leading role in manipulating American citizens’ perceptions of China generally, but influence operations like this could directly undermine the National Guard’s ability to mobilize in crisis or conflict. Additionally, TikTok’s data collection could pose threats to the operational security of National Guard operations. Both TikTok and the Chinese Communist Party continue to actively undermine American interests, both in the Indo-Pacific and in the American homeland, that the National Guard is tasked to defend.

Legislators from both parties have called for TokTok to be banned entirely in the US as it has been in Australia, though the Biden administration appears to be recruiting TikTok “influencers” as part of the upcoming 2024 Presidential campaign. In a response to the letter, a spokesperson for the New Hampshire National Guard stated that Lynch operates his own TikTok channel “on his own time with his own equipment,” adding that Lynch “has worked with our public affairs office to ensure he is in accordance with military policy.”

Which evades the issue…

Of course it is irresponsible for a member of the U.S. military to endorse a Chinese app while its uses and intentions are being debated. It is also stunning that the National Guard would make excuses for him: private post or not, Lynch identifies himself a Guardsman. The fact that the app is banned on all government devices would seem to be rather throbbing hint that no soldier should be praising TikTok on the web.

I have no idea whether TikTok is really a threat (though I do notice that Ann Althouse, once a TikTok addict, has quietly stopped promoting its videos) or if the two Republicans are grandstanding, but it doesn’t matter. Lynch should not have publicly extolled the app while there was any question about whether it undermined the privacy of Americans or national security.

Once again I must note that the mainstream media has ignored this story, with the only outlets reporting on it are the usual conservative outliers: Fox, NewsMax, the Washington Times, the New York Post, Breitbart, Newsweek, and few others. Why is that?

One thought on “Ethics Dunce: National Guardsman Jon Lynch

  1. It seems to me that TikTok is an easy call – if Congress has stated that it is not permitted on any – and that should mean ANY -government devices (whether cell phones, laptops, computers, iPads, etc.), then the exclusion should also apply to all government employees regardless of branch of the government. That should include quasi-official posts by members of the Armed Forces.

    Additionally, I would be inclined to extend the prohibition to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram along with all other social media platforms. Taxpayer dollars should not be spent providing government employees from posting on social media (or any other internet-based sites [e.g., comments on Legal Insurrection, EA, Althouse, etc.])without express approval from the department heads.


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