On March 13, 2024, the House of Representatives passed the act to ban the widely popular app, TikTok. This bill passed with a 352-65-1 vote in the House and a promise from President Biden to sign off on this act if it passes through the Senate. More specifically, the order calls for ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, to divest or sell TikTok to an American-owned company. The request is more of a transfer of ownership than a “ban.”

The history of the suspicion of TikTok began in 2020. The general concern has been that the widespread use of TikTok will result in ByteDance controlling software across the United States. President Trump passed an executive order to ban the app, but his efforts ended after he allied with the tech company, Oracle, to protect American data. In March of 2023, the CEO of TikTok, Shou Zi Chew, spoke in court against the ban of the app, claiming it to have little to no connection to China. Regardless, in May of 2023, Montana became the first state to sign legislation to ban TikTok. 

A big event that raised more suspicion for the app occurred in 2022 when employees at a corporation were able to use data TikTok had collected to find out if their workers had told reporters information. After this scandal, TikTok commissioned Project Texas to be able to manage all of the United States data it holds and protect it from being accessed by offshore companies. 

Meanwhile, content creators on TikTok are very much against this ban. The creators claim that the businesses and people whose income relies heavily on the dividends they receive from the app will suffer from this. They go even further to suggest this act will ruin the lives of all of these people if it progresses. Lawyers Adam Schwartz and David Greene add that this would “undermine the free speech and association of millions of users” by limiting their rights to use this app. 

 Students have strong opinions on the matter as well. “I am devastated that I won’t be able to use TikTok anymore, it is one of my favorite parts of the day,” says Sophomore Bella Goings. However, teachers at Pace have a different opinion. “This is a hard one for me, I think TikTok can be very dangerous, but at the same time, I do not want censorship across America. In general, however, I think we should take away all social media and phones in school,” says US History Teacher Helen Smith. 

Regardless of a legitimate ban or not, TikTok will still exist in different countries and the Senate has no desire to move hastily on the matter. Additionally, if an American business buys the company, then the ban will not continue at all, so there is only a slight chance of a true ban on the app.

U.S. citizens gather outside the Capitol building in protest. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite

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