TikTok warns ‘predetermined’ vote on U.S. ban will ‘damage millions of businesses’

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TikTok warns ‘predetermined’ vote on U.S. ban will ‘damage millions of businesses’

TikTok accused U.S. Senators of staging a “predetermined” vote to ban the platform in the United States.

Next week, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on legislation that gives TikTok’s owner, China’s ByteDance, six months to divest the app. If it doesn’t, TikTok could be completely banned in the United States, losing its 150 million-strong user base in America.

In response, the app suggested that the outcome of the vote was already decided and voiced concern that it would cost people their livelihoods.

What TikTok is saying. TikTok said in a statement:

  • “This legislation has a predetermined outcome: a total ban of TikTok in the United States. The government is attempting to strip 170 million Americans of their Constitutional right to free expression.”
  • “This will damage millions of businesses, deny artists an audience, and destroy the livelihoods of countless creators across the country.”

Why we care. A U.S. ban on TikTok would significantly impact advertisers, especially those targeting Gen Z. This demographic favors TikTok over platforms like Google, making it a crucial channel for advertisers seeking to reach this audience.

Security concerns. The vote is being held to address concerns related to national security surrounding TikTok’s ownership. As TikTok is owned by the Chinese multinational ByteDance, it falls under China’s controversial cybersecurity laws. These laws, among other things, contain provisions that could potentially require TikTok to furnish U.S. user data to the Chinese Communist Party upon request.

Forced to sever ties? The bill is set to undergo a full House floor vote next week, following a unanimous approval of 50-0 by a cross-party group of 20 lawmakers that form the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party on March 7. However, the bill must receive Senate approval before becoming law. Announcing the result of the initial vote, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said on X:

  • “The @HouseCommerce Committee just voted 50-0 to force TikTok to sever their ties with the Chinese Communist Party. I will bring this critical national security bill to the House floor for a vote next week.”

Reaction. TikTok, asserting that it has never shared, nor would share, US user data with the Chinese government, reacted to the initial vote results by prompting its users to take action. Users received notifications urging them to “call your representative now” and encourage them to vote against the measure. This mobilization led to a surge of phone calls from users to Capitol Hill, with lawmakers reporting an influx of calls urging them not to support the measure.

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Deep dive. Read TikTok’s statement in full for more information.

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