TikTok Faces Existential Threat as Congress Pushes for Ban | Congress Flooded With Calls

Lily Polanco Follow Mar 08, 2024 · 2 mins read
TikTok Faces Existential Threat as Congress Pushes for Ban | Congress Flooded With Calls
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The viral video-sharing app TikTok is facing an unprecedented challenge to its existence in the United States. A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing forward with legislation that would effectively ban the Chinese-owned platform unless its parent company ByteDance divests itself of all ownership stakes.

The move has sparked outrage among TikTok’s massive userbase in America, with the app urging users to flood congressional offices with calls opposing the ban. However, this aggressive response has seemingly backfired, only fueling lawmakers’ determination to clamp down on TikTok over national security concerns related to its Beijing-based ownership.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted unanimously 50-0 to advance the bill, which would force ByteDance to sell off TikTok within 165 days if it becomes law. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise has already announced plans to bring the “critical national security bill” up for a full House vote next week.

The White House has also signaled President Biden would likely sign the legislation, injecting new urgency into efforts to address the yearslong data privacy and security risks posed by TikTok’s Chinese connections. The app has been banned on federal government devices over espionage worries.

However, the Biden administration itself has embraced TikTok as a way to reach younger voters, with the Biden campaign joining the app last month. The White House even briefed around 70 influential TikTok creators ahead of the State of the Union address, illustrating TikTok’s power to drive narratives and news among Gen Z.

TikTok has become a top news source for many Americans, with multiple polls showing it is the leading news platform for the pivotal Gen Z demographic. The app’s ability to rapidly disseminate bite-sized videos has made it a powerful media force that is increasingly shaping digital culture and narratives.

This cultural impact is driven in part by TikTok’s viral e-commerce capability through its in-app shopping platform TikTok Shop. The feature allows creators and businesses to seamlessly integrate product catalogs into their videos. When viewers see something they like, they can tap through and make purchases without ever leaving the app.

TikTok Shop exploded in popularity in 2022, facilitating an estimated $4.7 billion worth of product sales. The social commerce juggernaut has been a game-changer for direct-to-consumer brands looking to tap into the app’s highly engaged and younger audience.

If TikTok is ultimately banned in the US, it could represent a major disruption and lost opportunity for the countless American businesses and entrepreneurs who have built flourishing brands and revenue streams through the TikTok Shop platform.

While the Biden administration has tried to strike a balance by using TikTok for campaigning while also working on restrictions, lawmakers seem to have lost patience. Allegations that TikTok’s user data could be accessed by Chinese authorities and used for nefarious purposes like influence operations have proven too big a risk in their eyes.

With the House gearing up for a vote that would force a sale or shutdown of TikTok’s US operations, the famously popular app is facing an existential crisis. TikTok’s aggressive response calling users to bombard Congress has only hardened resolve on Capitol Hill to rein in the Chinese tech behemoth once and for all over national security risks.

Written by Lily Polanco Follow
Junior News Writer @ new.blicio.us.