Congress’s Divergent Views on TikTok

Nuanced concerns over the China-linked social media app lead one step closer to its prohibition.

What’s happening: The bill to force ByteDance, a Chinese Communist Party-linked (CCP) company, to sell TikTok, overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives with a 352-65 vote margin. If ByteDance refuses to sell, the bill would give President Biden the ability to ban the app.

Why it matters: TikTok is indirectly controlled by the CCP and has been used both to spread propaganda and to spy on Americans. Removing Chinese control over the app would hinder such capabilities.

How they voted: Supporters of the bill cited similar concerns about Chinese influence over America’s youth, seeing the app as an extension of the CCP. The Democrats and Republicans who voted against it had differing rationales:

  • Republicans: Donald Trump spoke out against the bill, saying that eliminating TikTok would empower Meta by crushing companies it competes with. Others argued that increasing government control over social media was “opening Pandora’s box.”

  • Democrats: Certain Democrats voted against the bill due to free speech concerns. Others said the bill was rushed. Some noted that opposition to banning TikTok may be due to the preponderance of pro-Palestinian videos on the platform, which run 69-1 in favor of Palestinians over Israel.

Misleading claims: Some against the bill claim it allows the president to ban any website deemed a national security threat. But the text of the bill reveals that action is strictly limited to websites controlled by “foreign adversaries,” defined as China, Cuba, Russia, Venezuela, and Iran.

What’s next: The legislation now moves to the Senate. Although there is already bipartisan support for the bill, its fate is still uncertain.