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TikTok Ban Bill Successfully Passed By US House

Social media platform TikTok could be forced to split from Chinese company ByteDance or risk losing 170 million users if it's banned in the US.


A potential TikTok ban in the US has taken another step forward after lawmakers successfully passed a new bill in The US House. The bill received 352 votes in favor of it and 65 votes against it, easily securing more than the two-thirds majority needed to be passed, and it will head to the Senate next to be discussed further.

If the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act clears this next step, it could be signed into law by US President Joe Biden as soon as Friday, effectively banning TikTok or forcing its owner ByteDance to put it up for sale to a party that doesn't raise the same security concerns.

Biden has also indicated that he is willing to sign this bill if it reaches him. "If they pass it, I'll sign it," he said to reporters recently, although the bill could still face legal changes revolving around it possibly violating the First Amendment.

TikTok has long been suspected of being a national risk to US security, with claims that ByteDance's relationship with the Chinese government could allow it to share user information with the country. ByteDance has regularly dismissed these claims, with CEO Shou Zi testifying before a committee in the House.

In response to the bill being fast-tracked through the House, TikTok has criticized the move and says that it will now focus its efforts on persuading the Senate that it poses no security risk, while also urging US users to continue contacting their representatives to veto the bill.

"This process was secret and the bill was jammed through for one reason: It's a ban," a TikTok spokesperson said in a press statement (via CNN). "We are hopeful that the Senate will consider the facts, listen to their constituents, and realize the impact on the economy, 7 million small businesses, and the 170 million Americans who use our service."

TikTok has already been banned on government devices in many US states due to security concerns, with Montana attempting to ban the app outright before it was blocked from doing so by a judge. To appease US lawmakers, ByteDance made several changes to the app and it set up a new division focused on transparency and accountability.

If ByteDance is forced to sell TikTok, one potential buyer could be former Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick. Kotick raised the idea at an Allen & Co. dinner recently, and one potential investor could be Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, as it's rumored that TikTok could be used to help train AI models for his company. TikTok being banned would also have a significant ripple effect in the US, as since the rise in popularity of the social media platform, it has become a vital part of marketing for businesses and brands.

Entire houses dedicated to social media influencers have been established as a new online industry, and TikTok's influence has even led its competitors to establish similar platforms, like YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels.

Darryn Bonthuys on Google+

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