TikTok told me to lobbying in the US

Category: News
TikTok told me to lobbying in the US

You know something has gone wrong when politicians are being deluged with calls and that’s what happened in the US last week and the reason – “TikTok told me to”.

The background is the rumbling noise that TikTok might be banned in the US, with the President already indicating he would happily sign the bill to ban TikTok if the Senate pass it. A bill to force a sale of TikTok by owners Bytedance has currently been passed in the US House Energy and Commerce Committee and the next step would be a vote of the full house.

So obviously TikTok aren’t that pleased with the potential of a US ban or being forced to sell up, and so they popped a notification to US users asking them to help ‘Stop a TikTok shutdown’. This isn’t that unusual – we’ve seen lobbying and mobilising their users from all sorts of platforms – eBay Mainstreet springs to mind. However TikTok has been remarkably successful with Congress being hit with an unprecedented volume of TikTok told me to calls. It didn’t help that TikTok helpfully provided a direct link to call their representative in Congress and many couldn’t work out how to continue their normal TikTok use without making the call.

Now this TikTok told me to campaign hasn’t gone down particularly well and has led to complaints that Bytedance ‘weaponised’ TikTok interfering with the legislative process in Congress, a self affirming confirmation for those being plagued by calls that TikTok is bad. TikTok’s response is entirely logical… “Members of Congress are complaining about hearing from their constituents? Respectfully, isn’t that their job?”

What really matters here isn’t the rights and wrongs of TikTok ownership, or Chinese companies controlling social platforms, what matters is the people that use TikTok and let’s cut to the chase – many of them are reliant on their income from TikTok. TikTok Shop only launched in the US a few months ago, and yet already we’re seeing UK businesses setting up operations in the US to take advantage, having seen massive TikTok growth at home in the UK. Influencers have built entire income streams on TikTok and many millions of businesses have invested in advertising and are now reliant on sales directly or indirectly derived from their TikTok activities.

Banning TikTok might be right and it might be wrong in the eyes of lawmakers, but in the eyes of their users it’s an entertaining part of their daily life or more crucially an essential component of their income. Forcing a sale will be awkward, an outright ban would be devastating. Wednesday will probably be the date more news comes when the Congress vote is likely to take place.

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