TikTok encourages its users to call their representatives for attempts to ban the app

TikTok is stepping up its efforts to fight a new bill that could ban the app in the United States. The app is warning its millions of US users about the move, which will force ByteDance to sell TikTok so the app can remain available in US app stores.

“TikTok is at risk of being shut down in the US,” the push notification says. “Call your representative now.” A message on the app then instructed users to “speak up now – before your government deprives 170 million Americans of their constitutional right to free expression.” It also provides users with a shortcut to dial their representative’s office if they enter their zip code.

Pushing signals are said to already have a dramatic effect. A politician reporter Olivia Beavers said that House officials are reporting that their offices are being flooded with calls. One employee said of X that “we get a lot of calls from high school students asking what a congressman is.”

Unfortunately for TikTok, their plan to drum up opposition to the bill may not have the desired effect. The call flow may actually be “counter-effect,” according to Beavers, who says the answer may be increasing support for the bill among members of Congress. In a publication of XRep. Mike Gallagher, who chairs the special committee that introduced the bill, said the push notifications “hinder the legislative process.”

The reports come amid growing support for the measure, which was introduced earlier this week by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. On Thursday, the bill cleared its first legislative hurdle unanimously vote, 50 – 0, by members of the Energy and Commerce Committee to advance the measure. President Joe Biden, whose administration also tried to force the sale of TikTok, reportedly supports the bill. Like Punchbowl News notesprevious bills to ban TikTok have not had the support of the White House.

If passed, the bill would give TikTok about six months to separate from ByteDance or else the app store ban would go into effect. “This legislation has a predetermined result: a complete ban on TikTok in the United States,” TikTok said in a statement declaration published after the vote in the House. “The government is trying to deprive 170 million Americans of their constitutional right to free expression. It will hurt millions of businesses, deprive artists of an audience, and destroy the livelihoods of countless artists across the country.”

Digital rights groups also oppose the measure. The ACLU has called it “unconstitutional,” while other groups say comprehensive privacy legislation would be a more effective way to protect Americans’ data.

Update March 7, 2024, 3:52 PM ET: This story has been updated to reflect the results of a House Energy and Commerce Committee vote and a statement from TikTok.

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