TikTok asks ‘Gen Z’ for help to save the app in the US: ‘Share your stories with senators’

The fate of Tiktok, an app used by 170 million Americans, is now in the hands of 100 senators.

Even before the House approved a measure, 352 to 65, on Wednesday to ban TikTok unless its Chinese owner gets rid of itthe short video app had directed its lobbying efforts to the Senate, where many of the previous legislative giants have gone to die.

“We will continue to do everything we can, including exercising our legal rights, to protect this incredible platform we have built with you,” TikTok CEO Shou Chew said Wednesday night in a video posted on TikTok and X, formerly Twitter. “I encourage you to continue sharing your stories. Share them with your friendsshare them with your family, Share them with your senators”.

The legislation breezed through the House, going from introduction to passage in just over a week, with most Republicans and Democrats united in their concern about its Chinese parent company, ByteDance. President Joe Biden has said he will sign the bill. But first you have to overcome a number of concerns and potential revisions that could slow you down, stop you, or kill you.

Reaction to the bill’s passage in the House was swift. China called on the United States to stop “unjustifiably suppressing” TikTok, while former US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he is gathering a group of investors to buy the company. “It’s a big deal,” Mnuchin said in an interview with CNBC. “It should be owned by an American company.”

But Congress has a dismal record of turning its members’ complaints about perceived technology abuses into law. Promises to enact legislation to protect children online, strengthen antitrust authority, ensure data privacy and regulate artificial intelligence have fallen short. Now, senators are hearing from dozens of lobbyists on TikTok’s payroll, including former senators like Republican Trent Lott.

Until now, the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer has only committed to reviewing the legislation on TikTok when he arrives from the Chamber.

The bill’s first stop will likely be the Commerce Committee. Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, her chairwoman, said in a statement that she is “very concerned” about Americans’ data and attempts by foreign adversaries to build “backdoors” into apps like TikTok. But she stopped short of committing to take up the House bill and said she would talk to her colleagues “to find a path forward that is constitutional and protects civil liberties.”

Some senators who disagree on many issues – from Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman to Missouri Republican Josh Hawley – say they are eager to vote for legislation passed by the House, citing what they see as national security risks. . Senators Mark Warner and Marco Rubio, chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said they would work to get the bill passed in the chamber and become law.

But other senators, such as Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, have said they will do everything they can to delay the bill’s passage, including forcing a one-week delay if the measure reaches the floor. Paul has said that he believes he violates the Constitution and would fail in court if it became law.

The Senate also includes frequent TikTok users like Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who said Congress should pass broader legislation protecting data and privacy across social media.

Some Republican supporters share the new opposition from former President Donald Trump to forcing the sale of TikTok. Trump, who as president signed an executive order seeking to ban TikTok, told CNBC this week that Banning it would give Facebook too much power from Meta, which suspended him for two years for his role in the January 6 attacks. 2021 attack on the Capitol.

Also reflecting his concern about alienating the main users of the social network, trump added: “There are a lot of little kids on TikTok who would go crazy without it.”

But House Speaker Mike Johnson said at a Republican retreat Wednesday that he and his team “are going to apply all the pressure we can” to get the Senate to vote on the bill.

Linda Lourie, a former White House and Defense Department official now at WestExec Advisors, said it’s one thing for Warner and Rubio to say they support the bill, but they won’t be the ones to shape their version of the legislation. in the Senate.

“Even if they recognize the potential threat to national securitydoing this doesn’t seem to be in anyone’s political interest,” Lourie said, noting Democrats using TikTok to appeal to young voters and Trump’s recently expressed concern about a ban.