TikTok V. Senate, c. 2024. Goodbye, new old friend.

We are one step closer to TikTok being somebody that we used to know. On Wednesday, March 13th, 2024, the House took a vote to finalize what many consider the death sentence for TikTok. In this bipartisan bill, it states that ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, must sell the social media application or it will be banned from all US devices. All app stores (Google, Apple, etc.) will be required to block any applications from the United States, if they are owned by ByteDance.

The lopsided results show that the majority of the house representatives find this to be very problematic. With a final vote of 352–62, the bill moves on to the Senate. One of the leading political party sponsors claims that the efforts put forth are not a ban on video sharing apps as a whole, but one that is trying to force ByteDance’s hand to sell off the app as a means of security for the United States. In recent years, the application has partnered with Oracle to house all US customer data in Texas, but that doesn’t seem to be enough as the user data may still be accessible to the partner company.

The “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act” would give ByteDance six months to sell the business before incurring an outright ban on all US devices. Along with the sale component, this bill would allow any sitting US president to address threats from other foreign-owned applications in an easier way. Finally, it allows users to download the data that has been collected on them and offload it to another platform.

Opposition Is Never Easy

As we know, roughly 85% of the voters said yes to this bill. On the other side, almost 15% said no, but why is that? 27 year old Maxwell Frost (D-Fla), the youngest member of congress, feels it is a violation of the First Amendment – The Freedom of Speech. If your freedom of speech is still there, but the channels in which you practice those freedoms is destroyed, are those freedoms really still there? Looking at it from the economic side, we also see the grim perspective of tens of thousands of people losing jobs, income and communities that they have built and depend on as part of their livelihood.

While some refer to the ideas and intentions within the bill as an act of censorship, others refer to the act of keeping it as espionage and harmful to our national security. TikTok fights back saying that it will do what it can to prevent this from passing in the Senate, as that is truly the final hurdle before it is passed into law. President Biden has already stated that given the bill on his desk, he would sign it, meaning that the senate likely holds the final decision in their hands.

TikTok’s Not Going Down Easy

In the past TikTok has brought legal action against those trying to ban the app, claiming that safety of their users is a top priority. The United State court system has previously sided with TikTok and Frost, stating that the ban is in direct violation of American’s first amendment right to free speech. While there is some reassurance for TikTok that the court system has sided with them in the past, anything is possible and the outcome is never definitive.

Thank about it for a second – What would a world without TikTok look like? Its become so deeply engrained with how people educate themselves, spend their free time, or even express their emotions that not having it in a post-pandemic world, for many, seems unthinkable. While this is still a developing story, as we wait to see what occurs as a result of the bill’s success in the house, we will continue to update you.

Answer these questions:

What do you hope the outcome is?
Is there any real reason to be concerned about data leaks from TikTok more than Facebook, X, or Snapchat?
If they ban TikTok, what platform would you be most likely to move to?

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