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A bill is progressing through Congress that would give ByteDance, the Chinese company behind the highly popular short-form video app TikTok, an ultimatum: sell the app to an American company or be banned in the United States.

For years, lawmakers have raised concern over the growing popularity and influence of the Chinese-owned app among young Americans.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill. It now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to face tougher resistance and scrutiny.

The White House signaled President Joe Biden will sign the bill if it reaches his desk. Biden's presumptive Republican opponent in 2024, former President Donald Trump, recently came out against the bill. He argued that banning TikTok would greatly benefit Meta, Facebook's parent company, which he labeled an "enemy of the people." Trump led the first push to divorce TikTok from its Chinese ownership in 2020, but his executive order was halted by the courts.

When the bill first gained steam last week, TikTok mobilized its massive user base with an in-app notification reading, "Congress is planning a total ban of TikTok. Speak up now—before your government strips 170 million Americans of their constitutional right to free expression." A GOP aide reported that congressional phone lines were “completely bogged down” as a result of the call to action.

An article in Vox (Left bias) reported that for some lawmakers, this effort was "confirmation of their fears that the Chinese-owned app — which is already banned on government devices — is brainwashing America."

In the National Review (Right bias)Noah Rothman (Lean Right bias) wrote that TikTok "sicced its youthful users on Washington in a campaign of intimidation and emotional blackmail, confirming that the air of menace the app has cultivated for itself is no accident."

Those who favor a ban fear that the app is a threat to national security, warning that the Chinese Communist Party can use the platform and massive streams of user data to influence public opinion, spy on Americans, and potentially sway elections. Those opposed argue banning the app is a violation of the First Amendment and would threaten the livelihood of artists and small-business owners who use TikTok as a means of engaging with customers and fans.

A columnist in the Boston Globe (Left bias) said “America would lose a lot if the popular video-sharing app were prohibited,” and argued that an “outright prohibition raises First Amendment concerns and is unconstitutional … while doing little to address the vast data and privacy vulnerabilities found in other corners of the internet.” The writer concluded that the app should face increased regulation, “such as passing the American Data Privacy and Protection Act that would restrict how companies collect user data,” but not an outright ban.

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board (Lean Right bias) argued that Beijing and ByteDance have “demonstrated that they can’t be trusted” and have “left Washington with no choice” but to ban or force a sale of the app. The board stated, “Reams of evidence show how the Chinese government can use the platform for cyber-espionage and political influence campaigns in the U.S.” Pushing back on the First Amendment concerns, the board argued the bill “has ample precedent since U.S. law restricts foreign ownership of broadcast stations,” and concluded, “Despite America’s political divisions, this ought to be a shared goal.”

A writer for MSNBC (Left bias) outlined the potential electoral impact of a ban, determining, "there’s chaos on the horizon." The writer stated, "there’s no way to anticipate how the tens of millions of young people who use the app would react, either as consumers or as activists objecting to the quashing of a popular platform."

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More from the Left

Could a TikTok Ban Actually Happen?
The Atlantic (analysis)

"Few American companies could afford to spend billions on such a purchase. And the large tech companies that could swing it might not be interested in such a massive purchase—or willing to take on the legal risk. Any acquisition from a competitor would likely face antitrust challenges. A spokesperson for TikTok said that it sees this congressional move as effectively a ban."

More from the Right

Congress must require China’s ByteDance to divest ownership of TikTok
The Washington Times (opinion)

"Here’s the best part of the story: It turns out a billionaire named Jeff Yass gives the Club for Growth a bunch of cash. Mr. Yass gave bags of cash to Vivek Ramaswamy’s presidential effort, and it appears that he engineered the rapprochement between Club for Growth and former President Donald Trump. It should surprise no one to learn that — in addition to owning wide swaths of the “conservative” movement in this country — Mr. Yass also owns 15% of ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok."

More from the Center

Republicans Deal Blow to Donald Trump in TikTok Fight

"The vast majority of House Republicans voted in favor of legislation that could ban TikTok in the United States, despite previous opposition from former President Donald Trump. The House of Representatives voted 352-65 on legislation calling on ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, to divest the application or face a possible ban in the U.S. Among Republicans, 15 voted no, as Trump urged, and 197 Republicans voted yes."

See more big stories from the past week.