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Revealed – how TikTok was upended by US bill that threatens its future

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Revealed – how TikTok was upended by US bill that threatens its future

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A unanimous vote from a bipartisan group of US lawmakers advanced a bill which would force ByteDance to divest ownership of TikTok, or risk losing access to its vast audience of 170 million in the States.

The action wasn’t just a shock to TikTok chiefs; it upended them and cast a shadow over their “most valuable market,” as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Bosses had attended the company’s international headquarters in Singapore, buoyed by the arrival of President Joe Biden’s campaign team onto the hugely popular video hosting app.

There seemed no imminent chance of a ban in the US, or so it seemed, yet that illusion was shattered on Thursday, March 7.

On that day, the legislation was approved, threatening TikTok’s future in the US. It resulted from a cross-party venture by Representatives working together on a plan to take power away from the platform or force a sale to a non-Chinese owner.

TikTok is said to have been stunned by the broad support garnered by the bill.

“This process was intentionally connected in secret because the bill authors knew it was the only way they could move it forward,” stated a spokesperson for the ByteDance company.

What is TikTok’s response to the proposed ban?

The move is driven by fears over national security concerns emanating from TikTok’s Chinese ownership and its links to the Beijing government. It follows previous efforts in Congress to address perceived risks from the video-hosting app with a ruling in late 2022 banning federal employees from using the platform on government-issued devices.

Full approval for the legislation to ban TikTok in the House is expected, but it could face a more formidable challenge to be cleared by the Senate. President Biden has already indicated he will support the bill if it lands on his desk.

The legislation stipulates that divestment should be completed within 165 days, so it will be very interesting to see what transpires.

However, the Chinese-owned app has an unlikely ally in its corner in Donald Trump, the former president who is in the race to become only the second president to serve nonconsecutive terms in the White House, following on from the lead of Democrat Grover Cleveland, from 1885 to 1889 and from 1893 to 1897.

Despite Trump’s 2020 ploy to banish TikTok via an executive order, it failed after courts blocked the action. He wanted to quash the app then — but now he has spoken out in support of the platform while aiming his ire at domestic foes in what is a typical change of course for the New York-born 77-year-old.

In a post on Truth Social, a right-wing social media site, Trump wrote: “If you get rid of TikTok, Facebook and Zuckerschmuck, it will double their business. I don’t want Facebook, who cheated in the last Election, doing better. They are a true Enemy of the People.”

TikTok will vehemently defend itself and its strong market share in the US, it has already launched a full-scale defence of its status and is lobbying to avoid an outright ban.

Image credit: Ideogram

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