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TikTok faces ban in the US (again), urges users to call congress

TikTok has been rallying its US user base to oppose a bill that threatens to ban the app unless ByteDance agrees to a divestiture.

tiktok app logo on phone screen

TikTok’s days in the United States may be numbered, but not without kicking up a proverbial storm.

TikTok has been rallying its U.S. user base to oppose a new bill that threatens to ban the app unless ByteDance (its current owner) agrees to a divestiture. In turn, the app sent out a system-wide push notification to all US users urging them to take action.

The push notifications said, “TikTok is at risk of being shut down in the US.” Users could even use an in-app shortcut to dial up their representative’s office if they so inclined.

A smartphone displaying a TikTok screen with a message urging users to stop a shutdown of the platform by contacting Congress, floating over a gradient background of purple and pink.
Image: KnowTechie

As a result, a hailstorm of calls has been pouring on their elected officials’ offices. It would seem TikTok’s call to arms had not fallen on deaf ears, or so it thought.

According to Politico reporter Olivia Beavers, the mass lobbying effort spearheaded by TikTok might be having the opposite effect, with support for the bill purportedly seeing an uptick among lawmakers.

Congressman Mike Gallagher, who is leading the committee supporting the bill, accused TikTok’s notifications of meddling with the law-making process.

“This is my message to TikTok: Break up with the Chinese Communist Party or lose access to your American users,” Rep. Mike Gallagher said in a statement. “America’s foremost adversary has no business controlling a dominant media platform in the United States.”

Meanwhile, the proposed bill, created by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is moving forward. The proposal to ban the popular app was presented to the committee, and all members voted in favor.

“This is not just another messaging bill,” Republican Commissioner Brendan CarCarr said. “I’m really hopeful that this is the bill that will get across the finish line.”

President Joe Biden supports the bill, even though his administration had also been trying to get TikTok to split from its current owner.

TikTok’s statement condemning the vote clarifies what appears to be a fait accompli. “This legislation has a predetermined outcome: a total ban of TikTok in the United States.”

The contentious bill threatens to shut down TikTok’s access to millions of American users, curtailing their right to free expression, shuttering businesses, and silencing artists.

Free speech? Remember when that was a thing?

According to reports from The New York Times, the ACLU, among other digital rights groups, deems the measure “unconstitutional.” Other advocates suggest a comprehensive privacy law as an alternative solution.

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Kevin is KnowTechie's founder and executive editor. With over 15 years of blogging experience in the tech industry, Kevin has transformed what was once a passion project into a full-blown tech news publication. Shoot him an email at kevin@knowtechie.com or find him on Mastodon or Post.

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