U.S. House Votes: Ban TikTok If No Divestment from China

U.S. House Votes: Ban TikTok If No Divestment from China

In a decisive move, the House of Representatives has approved a bill that could prohibit TikTok from operating in the United States unless its Chinese parent company relinquishes ownership, a development anticipated to become law soon. The legislation, linked to a sizable foreign aid allocation for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, garnered significant backing with a vote of 360 to 58. Although the complete aid package awaits further voting, its passage is highly foreseen.

Approximately 150 million Americans are active users of TikTok, sparking concerns among lawmakers regarding the Chinese Communist influence on the platform. Recent controversies have stirred unease, including instances where TikTok promoted troubling content like Osama Bin Laden’s messages and dangerous challenges. Additionally, accusations emerged after Hamas’ actions in Israel that TikTok amplified extremist propaganda.

The bill’s approval marks a bipartisan stance against TikTok’s potential misuse as a tool for information warfare by the CCP. Representative Ritchie Torres emphasized the necessity to prevent the corruption and radicalization of young Americans through the app. Following the House’s decision, a teacher, Amber Thomas, highlighted the app’s role in funding supplies for her students, expressing dismay over the impending ban’s impact on her charitable initiatives.

Discussions have intensified in Wall Street about potential buyers if TikTok is divested, with major tech companies like Microsoft, Meta, Apple, and Oracle entering the speculation. Rumble, a platform posed as a YouTube alternative, is also in the mix as a prospective acquirer. However, the substantial valuation of TikTok, reaching up to $50 billion, poses a challenge for interested parties.

Previous attempts to regulate TikTok faced hurdles in the Senate, where the Democratic Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, withheld the bill from a vote. Despite his past advocacy for a U.S.-based solution to safeguard user data, the ban’s insertion into critical foreign aid legislation forces the Senate’s hand for prompt deliberation and eventual enactment under President Biden’s approval.

The bill grants TikTok a grace period of nine months, extendable to a year by the President, to comply with divestment requirements or risk a nationwide ban post the 2024 election. Democrats, relying on TikTok’s reach to engage young voters, perceive the looming ban’s impact on electoral mobilization.

With the Senate poised to address the TikTok ban swiftly, anticipation builds around its finalization and implementation. The legislation’s significance in curtailing foreign influence on social media platforms underscores the evolving landscape of digital governance. As TikTokers express discontent over the impending restrictions, the future of the popular app hangs in the balance amidst political and corporate maneuverings.

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