Congress Is Once Again Considering a Ban of TikTok (While Biden Is Using It to Appeal to Young Voters)

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

A bipartisan bill introduced by the GOP chair of the House China committee and the Democratic ranking member of the committee would force China's ByteDance to sell off TikTok or face having it banned in app stores in the US.


The bill, dubbed the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, creates a process for the president — through the FBI and intelligence agencies — to identify certain social media applications under the control of a foreign adversary, like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, as a national security threat.

Once those apps are deemed a risk, they would be banned from online app stores and web-hosting services unless they sever ties with entities under control of the foreign adversary within 180 days of the designation. That would mean TikTok, which FBI Director Christopher Wray has testified poses a risk to national security, could face a potential ban unless parent company ByteDance acts quickly to divest it.

Getting bipartisan agreement on anything these days is no small feat. Even the White House seems to be on board...sort of.

The White House has signaled strong support for the bipartisan measure though it's still eyeing some changes. A National Security Council spokesperson said the Biden administration has worked with lawmakers in both parties “to arrive at a durable legislative solution that would address the threat of technology services operating in the United States in a way that poses risks to Americans’ sensitive data and our broader national security. This bill is an important and welcome step to address that threat.”

The NSC official applauded Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi’s work on the issue and said, “We look forward to working with Congress to further strengthening this legislation to put it on the strongest possible legal footing.”


It certainly sounds like the White House is on board but at the same time they are also using TikTok as a means to appeal to younger voters. Remember a few weeks ago when Joe Biden declined to speak live to Americans during the Super Bowl? What the White House did instead was release a TikTok video on their brand new account @bidenhq. Here it is.


lol hey guys

♬ Fox nfl theme - Notrandompostsguy

There are now more than 50 videos under that account, most of which don't have that many views. In any case, TikTok is calling the bill an "outright ban."

TikTok said: “This bill is an outright ban of TikTok, no matter how much the authors try to disguise it. This legislation will trample the first amendment rights of 170mn Americans and deprive 5mn small businesses of a platform they rely on to grow and create jobs.”

But the word coming from China is even more definitive. The South China Morning Post reports China won't allow it to happen.

The Chinese government “would block the sale” even if ByteDance and other mainland investors were forced to divest their shares, according to Alex Capri, a senior lecturer at the National University of Singapore and a research fellow at Asia-based philanthropic organisation Hinrich Foundation.

He indicated that ByteDance could face legal consequences on the mainland if it transfers ownership or technology to the US without Beijing’s approval.

“It’s unlikely that TikTok will ever be effectively banned in America”, Capri said. “Any attempt to ban it outright is likely to be struck down in US courts on the grounds that this violates a user’s First Amendment right to free speech.”


It's a bit galling to see the communists who won't allow US social media like X to exist in mainland China (though some people circumvent the ban) are counting on the US protection of free speech to ensure their own social media app can keep collecting data on Americans.

The underlying problem here is that news stories published over the past two years indicate that Chinese engineers can access data on any US user. And because Chinese companies are legally required to help out the government whenever they ask, that data could at any time be requested by the communist party.

And that's not even to mention all of the other things there are to not like about TikTok, such as the way it has been used to convince people that maybe Osama bin Laden had a point. The potential exists for TikTok's Chinese owners to use that power in ways that could impact more than 150 million US users.

My own take on this is that there is no technological advantage China won't abuse under the right circumstances. In the case of TikTok, that means the moment they decide to invade Taiwan or seize another island in the South China Sea, they will use this tool to influence public opinion abroad. My guess is that would look like wall-to-wall Jackson Hinkle videos and possibly some really awful Chinese rap videos on TikTok making the case for China while alternative views critical of China suddenly vanish from the site. This is exactly the kind of clumsy propaganda that China has been putting on social media for years. China lies. It's what they do.


This video was created by China critic Matthew Tye who lived in China for nearly a decade and married a Chinese woman. He has since moved back to the US. This is his take on some of the current propaganda China is running on social media.

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