TikTok is encouraging its users to call their representatives about attempts to ban the app

TikTok is encouraging its users to call their representatives about attempts to ban the app

TikTok is stepping up its efforts to fight a new bill that could force a ban of the app in the United States. The app has been alerting its millions of US users about the measure, which would force ByteDance to sell TikTok in order for the app to remain available in US app stores.

“TikTok is at risk of being shut down in the US,” the push notification says. “Call your representative now.” An in-app message then instructs users to “speak up now — before your government strips 170 million Americans of their Constitutional right to free expression.” It also provides users a shortcut to dial their representative’s office if they enter their zip code.

The push alerts are reportedly already having a dramatic effect. Politico reporter Olivia Beavers said that House staffers report their offices are being inundated with calls. One staffer said on X that “we’re getting a lot of calls from high schoolers asking what a Congressman is.”

Unfortunately for TikTok, their plan to stir up resistance to the bill may not be having the intended effect. The flood of calls may in fact be “backfiring,” according to Beavers, who says the response may be increasing support for the bill among members of Congress. In a post on X, Representative Mike Gallagher, who chairs the select committee that introduced the bill, said the push notifications were “interfering with the legislative process.” 

The alerts come amid growing support for the measure, which was introduced earlier this week by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. On Thursday, the bill cleared its first legislative hurdle with a unanimous vote, 50 – 0, by members of the Energy and Commerce Committee to advance the measure. President Joe Biden, whose administration has also sought to force a divestiture of TikTok, is reportedly supportive of the bill. As Punchbowl News notes, previous bills to ban TikTok have not had the backing of the White House.

If passed, the bill would give TikTok about six months to separate itself from ByteDance or else an app store ban would take effect. “This legislation has a predetermined outcome: a total ban of TikTok in the United States,” TikTok said in a statement published after the vote in the House. “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.”

Digital rights groups also oppose the measure. The ACLU has called it “unconstitutional,” while other groups say that comprehensive privacy legislation would be a more effective way to protect Americans’ data.

Update March 7, 2024, 3:52PM ET: This story has been updated to reflect the results of a vote by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a statement from TikTok.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/tiktok-is-encouraging-its-users-to-call-their-representatives-about-attempts-to-ban-the-app-202056111.html?src=rss

By John Routledge

Founder and owner of Technoshia.com - I'm an avid tech junkie, a lover of new gadgets and home automation. You will often find me reading, writing, and learning about new technologies. I've been featured in many leading technology magazines where I've written about my favorite topics.