TikTok Prompts Users to Call Congress to Fight Possible Ban

TikTok Prompts Users to Call Congress to Fight Possible Ban

Many Capitol Hill offices were inundated with phone calls after TikTok urged users to tell their representatives they opposed a new bill aimed at the company.

Washington lawmakers introduced a bill this week calling for TikTok to cut ties with its Chinese parent company or face a ban in the United States. When many users opened the popular app on Thursday, the company greeted them with a message to oppose the legislation, prompting a flood of phone calls to several Capitol Hill offices.

“Stop a TikTok shutdown,” the message on the app read. It included a button for people to call their representatives, saying: “Let Congress know what TikTok means to you and tell them to vote NO.”

By noon, the phone lines for members of Congress were overwhelmed by calls, according to posts from lawmakers’ staff members on X and two congressional aides with knowledge of the situation. Some of the callers appeared to be teenagers, while others hung up as soon as they were connected, the aides said. One staff member posted a screenshot to X showing that TikTok also sent a push alert to some users.

Some users said on X that they were unable to use the app before placing the call; it was unclear whether it was possible to bypass the message.

Technology companies have often sought to rally users in response to legislation, but rarely is the effort so overt.

Lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the legislation 50-0 on Thursday. It’s aimed at forcing TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, to sell the app. The House bill is one of several efforts over the past year aimed at curtailing TikTok because of concerns that ByteDance’s relationship with Beijing poses risks to national security.

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