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US House Passes a Bill that Could Ban TikTok Forever

On the evening of Wednesday, March 13, a pivotal moment unfolded in the US House of Representatives. The House passed a bill with broad bipartisan support that would force TikTok’s Chinese owner, Shou Chew, to either sell the hugely popular video app or face its prohibition within US borders. 

As tensions continue to rise between Beijing and Washington, the ramifications of such a ban could lead to an extreme power shift in the realm of social media affecting national security and free speech.

With a Republican majority in the House, the bill navigated through with relative ease, encountering limited debate and resulting in a lopsided vote of 352-65 in favor. Despite the United States’s massive fanbase at 170 million users, the app’s intentions to mobilize Americans against the ban proved unsuccessful in the House as TikTok “threatens national security including the ability to meddle in elections,” according to the House of Representatives. 

While the bill did have success passing at an overwhelming majority in the House, it faces a difficult road in the Senate where Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, has been noncommittal about bringing it to the floor for a vote where some lawmakers currently oppose it. The bill will likely fall under a significant filibuster, lengthening the process towards a simple ⅔ majority where it can then be signed into law by President Biden. 

Over the past four years, the app has been under extreme threat, however, the passing of this legislation in the House was the first time a TikTok ban had been approved by a full chamber of Congress, giving hope to politicians in support of this drastic change. While the bill does not explicitly set into motion a widespread TikTok ban, the bill is aimed at getting ByteDance to sell TikTok to non-Chinese owners within six months and if the bill is executed as planned, the president has agreed to sign off on the sale, but only if it resolves national security concerns. 

Nevertheless, the proposed legislation has stimulated sharp criticism from TikTok users nationwide, particularly from influencers and small businesses who heavily rely on the platform for promotional purposes and as a vital source of income. With approximately seven million small businesses in the US utilizing TikTok to keep their businesses afloat, a potential ban in its midst risks causing a widespread bankruptcy of aspiring entrepreneurs. 

Beyond the economic impact, opponents argue that TikTok is also a platform that has connected users worldwide, allowing for the sharing of culture and the opportunity for individuals across the globe to build relationships. “The video app has transformed our world,” Shou Chew reported to CBS News, preceding the House vote. “It encourages people to build off the ideas of others.” With many arguments in coordination with this one, the elimination of TikTok will likely result in rampant pushback from users, however, it is up to the Senate whether or not this legislation will have a significant impact past the doors of Congress. 


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