TikTok CEO Urges Users To Reach Out To Their Senators About Possible Ban

Shou Zi Chew, TikTok’s CEO, urged users of the social media platform to protect their constitutional rights against what he said would be the consequences of banning the service in the U.S., as a recent bill in Congress proposes.

“Over the last few years, we have invested to keep your data safe and our platform free from outside manipulation,” Chew said in a TikTok video Wednesday. “We have committed that we will continue to do so. This legislation, if signed into law, will lead to a ban of TikTok in the United States.”

He argued that banning TikTok would give power to a handful of other social media companies, that creators and small businesses would lose billions of dollars, and that more than 300,000 people would be at risk of losing their jobs. (The creator economy is a $250 billion industry.) He urged TikTok users to continue telling their stories to friends, family and their senators.

The House passed a bill Wednesday to ban TikTok in the United States if ByteDance, TikTok’s China-based parent company, doesn’t sell the app within 165 days. Supporters of the bill argue that ByteDance poses a national security risk, and that the company could be sharing data from American users with the Chinese government.

“About half the progressive caucus ended up voting for this bill,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) said on “Morning Joe” Thursday. “And the reason why is simple. They know there’s no First Amendment right to espionage, or First Amendment right to harm our national security. The First Amendment covers speech, not conduct ― and certainly not anybody’s right, including the Chinese Communist Party’s, to somehow use the platform to do harm to Americans.”

Some senators, however, expressed concern over the bill, saying that it might affect free speech in America. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) suggested that the Senate look at legislation she authored last year that would create a new commission to regulate online platforms. The bill’s chances of passing in the upper chamber are far from certain.

Former President Donald Trump, who threatened to ban TikTok while he was president, has lately reversed his stance, arguing that banning TikTok would help Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram. This week, Trump described Facebook as “an enemy of the people” that has been “very bad for our country.”

TikTok user Alexander Pearlman, who is known for his news and comedy videos, posted a TikTok last week that has been seen more than 10 million times, pointing out the absurdity of Congress agreeing on a TikTok ban but not on issues like the border, raising minimum wage or keeping prescription drugs at a low cost.