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Will TikTok survive in US as Congress set to vote bill today?

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This representational image shows the TikTok logo with the shadow of the US flag.. — AFP/File
This representational image shows the TikTok logo with the shadow of the US flag.. — AFP/File

TikTok, in its last-ditched effort, has pulled up a great entertainment show by gathering a number of influencers on its platform ahead of a potential app ban by Congress.

The bill for a ban on Tiktok is expected to pass when it comes up for a vote in the House today.

In full-on fight mode, the social media app faces a crucial vote in Congress and is pulling out all the stops. At a request from the social media giant, popular creators like JT, a lip-syncing star, flew in to meet lawmakers, showing how TikTok puts food on their tables. The app asked them to meet lawmakers to oppose the bill, which is supported by the Biden administration.

“This is 100 percent of what we rely on to put food on our table to pay our bills,” 39-year-old JT Laybourne said, while talking to POLITICO on the Capitol steps. Laybourne, a content creator and lip-sync artist, now has a follower base of 1.7 million people after he joined TikTok in 2019.

CEO Shou Chew is expected to personally lobby on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, whispers filled the air. Congressional briefings spoke of China potentially using the app to scoop up data, a national security concern. However, lawmakers like Representative Garcia argued a ban would hurt free speech and the economy.

Four Democratic House members joined the creators expressed support for the creators and joined them for a press conference on the Capitol grounds on Tuesday. “Any ban on TikTok is not just banning the freedom of expression. You are literally causing huge harm to our national economy,” said Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.)

Another member, Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) backed the TikTok creators, saying, “Not only am I a no, I’m a hell no.”

Supporting TikTok, former president Donald Trump spoke against the bill on his social media platform. His adviser Kellyanne Conway also met with members to advocate for TikTok.

TikTok wasn’t taking any chances. They flooded Congress with calls from their user base, urging them to oppose the bill.

The House vote loomed large. While it seemed TikTok may lose in the House, there was a glimmer of hope for the app in the Senate where the bill could stall. The stakes were high as President Biden himself was onboard with the ban.

Beyond the usual lobbying tactics, TikTok did something new this time around. They mobilised their massive user base and content creators. Creators like Dani, a child safety advocate who found her voice and income on the platform, advocated against the ban. Dani met with her Congressman’s staff, but they remained undecided.

“People have found a way to have a voice where maybe they haven’t before,” said Morin.

“And through that they’ve also been able to monetize — it’s like, doing what you love, and getting somehow paid for it.”

As the clock ticked, TikTok’s future in the US hung in the balance. 

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