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TikTok on the clock

​​The US flag and TikTok logo are seen in this illustration taken June 2, 2023.

The US flag and TikTok logo are seen in this illustration taken June 2, 2023.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

In a rare bipartisan vote of 352-65, the US House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday that – if it survives the Senate — could force TikTok to divest from its Chinese parent company ByteDance or be banned on all US devices.

Many see TikTok as a threat to America’s national security since Chinese law requires private-sector companies to answer to the Chinese Communist Party. Lawmakers worry that Beijing could weaponize Americans’ user data (browsing history, location, contacts, etc.) and use the almighty algorithm to influence elections and further divide an already polarized country.

TikTok has found a surprising ally in 2024 hopeful Donald Trump. The former president pulled a 180 on supporting the ban, saying it will benefit American-owned Facebook — which he called a “true enemy of the people” (note, he doesn’t own that one). Trump’s change of heart came days after a meeting with GOP megadonor Jeff Yass, who owns a 15% stake in ByteDance.

What’s next: Although President Joe Biden signaled he would sign the bill, Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer’s willingness to bring it to the Senate floor, and how everyone will vote, remains unclear.

What is clear: No one will come out of this fight unscathed. If TikTok gets banned, 170 million TikTok users (especially young people and Trump) will revolt. If everything stays the same, millions of Americans could remain vulnerable to foreign manipulation.


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