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TikTok Will Go To Court To Contest US Ban

Last week, US President Joe Biden signed a bill that would effectively ban TikTok in the US within a year if the social media giant doesn't divest its US company.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden signed a bill that will force TikTok to divest from its Chinese owner, ByteDance, within 9 months (270 days) or be banned from the US completely. [1]

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden signed a bill that will force TikTok to divest from its Chinese owner within 9 months (270 days) or be banned from the US completely. TikTok has until January 2025 to sell its US operation, with the possibility of extending the deadline by 90 days provided that the company makes progress toward a sale.

The ban will prohibit US app stores and internet hosting services that support it. That means that users will not be able to download the app or interact with its content.

On Thursday, TikTok’s parent ByteDance said that it has no intention of selling the business.

TikTok CEO Shou Chew took to the platform and called the law “unconstitutional,” vowing to take the ban to court to protect the rights of users. “We aren’t going anywhere,” he promised users. He also invited them to share their own stories about how TikTok has changed their lives to help the company make its case in court.

In March, Shou posted a video saying that the company has invested in keeping users’ data safe and the platform “free from outside manipulation.” He stressed that the ban would affect TikTok’s 170 million users in the US, the 7 million businesses that use it, and 300,000 creators.

On Thursday, The Information reported that ByteDance is exploring the possibility of selling a majority stake in the US business without the algorithm that makes it so popular, but ByteDance denied the report.

ByteDance’s Chinese founder owns 20% of the company with a controlling stake in the company. Roughly 60% is owned by institutional investors, including US investment firms, while 20% is owned by employees. 3 out of ByteDance’s 5 board members are American. [2]  

The Chinese government can veto any sale by ByteDance, on account of the company being subject to Chinese law. 

Biden is still lobbying Gen-Z on TikTok

Even after signing the bill, US President Joe Biden continued to lobby Gen-Z on TikTok. Some influencers supporting the Biden presidential campaign have spoken out against the ban, reports Bloomberg. Other influencers have called the bill hypocritical.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stressed that the legislation is not a ban, but rather that it is about “national security.”

The Biden administration launched its TikTok account on the night of the Super Bowl earlier this year and has been using the app to lobby would-be voters. In December 2022, the use of the app was banned on most government devices.

This isn’t the first time TikTok has been targeted

The US is TikTok’s biggest market, with 170 million users and 7 million businesses operating on the app. TikTok is used by 35% of Americans aged 12 and older and is the third most popular social media platform in the US, behind Facebook and Instagram.

This is the second bill to ban TikTok in the US in as many months. In March, the House voted on a bill to ban TikTok, which was stalled in Senate. The latest bill was bundled with a $95 billion foreign aid package to Taiwan, Israel, and Ukraine.

Almost half of 18- to 29-year-olds are opposed to a TikTok ban, compared to 35% of US adults over 30, according to a poll conducted by AP-NORC in January 2024.

Critically, the poll found that 32% of young adults regularly turn to TikTok for news, up from 9% in 2020. This, according to Pew, bucks the trend on most social media sites, “where news consumption has either declined or stayed about the same in recent years.”

The poll found that 56% of adults favored banning the use of TikTok on US government devices, including phones and computers used by government employees.

The Trump administration first attempted to ban TikTok by executive order in the US 3 years ago on account of it being a national security threat. At the time, both Microsoft and Oracle entered into talks to acquire the popular app. TikTok challenged the then-president in court in a case that was dismissed in July 2021.

Trump has spoken out against Biden’s bill to ban TikTok, claiming that President Biden is pushing to ban the app to help the app’s competitor, Facebook.

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