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The US House of Representatives Passes Bill Potentially Banning TikTok

In a decisive move, the US House of Representatives voted to essentially ban TikTok unless its Chinese owner, ByteDance, divests entirely from the app within about six months. This bill, known as the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act (H.R. 7521), underscores the mounting security concerns surrounding the popular social media platform.

Leading up to the vote, Congress members voiced apprehensions over TikTok, citing worries about Chinese access to American user data and the spread of pro-China propaganda. Representative Sara Jacobs, though acknowledging the threat posed by Chinese information operations, criticized the bill, expressing doubts about its effectiveness in protecting Americans from misinformation and data misuse.

Concerns were also raised about potential broader implications of the bill. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene cautioned that it could pave the way for the forced sale of other social media platforms, including X, now owned by Elon Musk.

The influence of TikTok users on Congress was palpable, with a surge of calls flooding Congressional offices following a warning notice sent to TikTok users about the impending ban. However, some lawmakers, like Representative Sydney Kamlager-Dove, pointed out that Chinese influence operations extend beyond TikTok, referencing Meta’s removal of a significant Chinese influence operation from its platforms in November 2023.

Prominent TikTok creators voiced skepticism about the bill’s efficacy in protecting American interests. Charlotte Palermino, CEO of skin-care brand Dieux, expressed concerns about the impact of a TikTok ban on small businesses, while artist Sigourney Norman questioned lawmakers’ motives, suggesting their focus is more on surveillance than on protecting users.

The bill will now advance to the Senate, with Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chair Mark R. Warner and vice chair Marco Rubio expressing support for its passage. This bill represents ongoing efforts to regulate TikTok, fueled by persistent concerns over its potential as a security threat.

Despite President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign joining TikTok earlier this year, Biden himself indicated readiness to sign the TikTok ban into law if approved by the Senate. However, TikTok remains hopeful that the Senate will carefully consider the implications before making a decision.

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