Biden Signs Unconstitutional TikTok Ban, TikTok Vows to Litigate

US President, Joe Biden, has signed into law the harmful and unconstitutional TikTok ban law. Litigation appears to be coming.

The US assault on job creators and the creative community came back in a big way when Republican’s tied their TikTok ban bill to the Ukraine aid bill. Democrats happily accepted this addition to kill tens of thousands of jobs and voted in favour of the legislation as a whole. TikTok, in response, rightfully pointed out that the effort to ban the platform tramples free speech, signalling that it planned on fighting this blatantly unconstitutional effort.

The bill was brought about thanks to unsubstantiated claims and conspiracy theories spread by mainstream media about how TikTok is being used by China to meddle in US politics or spying on American’s and collect highly detailed personal information such as how you like optical illusion video’s or tips on how to get your nails done in a bid to conduct foreign interference of… something. When US intelligence was pressed on any evidence to substantiate any of these wild conspiracy theories, they ultimately came up empty-handed, relying solely on theory and hypotheticals rather than any hard evidence. You would think for something so widely accepted as reality that there would at least be a shred of evidence to support these claims, but apparently, not so much.

As we pointed out in our earlier reports, there didn’t appear to be much stopping this legislation from becoming law at this point. Those observations were confirmed when it sailed through Congress, the Senate, and now signed into law by President Joe Biden. From CNBC:

President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed into law measures to provide aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, as well as to compel Chinese TikTok parent company ByteDance to sell the social media platform or face a national ban.

Biden’s official approval ends a six-month saga of tense political battles on Capitol Hill that led to a deadlock on the issue of foreign aid.

This is, of course, not going to be the last development in all of this. TikTok was already signalling that the arbitrary ban was unconstitutional and that the platform would fight against this ban. The BBC notes that TikTok is saying that it will challenge this unconstitutional ban in court:

TikTok says it will challenge in court an “unconstitutional” law that could result in it being sold or banned in the United States.

President Biden has signed into law a bill which gives the social media platform’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, nine months to divest the app or it will be blocked in the US.

The law has been introduced because of concerns TikTok might share user data with the Chinese government – claims it has always denied.

“We are confident and we will keep fighting for your rights in the courts,” said TikTok boss Shou Zi Chew.

“The facts, and the Constitution, are on our side… rest assured, we aren’t going anywhere.”

In a video posted on the platform, he lambasted the bill and called for people to share their stories of how TikTok had improved their lives.

“Make no mistake, this is a ban – a ban on TikTok, and a ban on you, and your voice,” he said.

So, really, the question isn’t whether TikTok is going to fight this ban in court, but rather, when. As we noted earlier, it is legally possible to delay the banning of the app through a court challenge. Specifically, a judge can theoretically be convinced to put in place an injunction to delay the law from taking effect and keeping the app on various app stores. Obviously, we’ll have to wait and see what actually happens whenever legal proceedings take place, but that is certainly a possibility.

Now, obviously, there are major implications for this particular move. TikTok, of course, has numerous content creators with whole teams behind them to create their video’s. Now that TikTok is potentially going away, those job creators and creative individuals are left scrambling to find another way to continue their careers – in some cases, life long. These aren’t small numbers, either. From CNBC:

Ophelia Nichols, known as “shoelover99” on TikTok, is among the scores of online creators and influencers whose livelihood has been suddenly thrown into potential chaos.

Nichols, who lives in Alabama, has over 12.5 million followers on TikTok, an app she uses for creating lifestyle content and delivering rants in her deep Southern accent. Her posts can attract millions of views, and she makes most of her money through promotional partnerships with brands like Home Chef.

But after legislative actions this week in Washington, D.C., Nichols doesn’t know what happens next.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden signed a bill forcing the divestiture of TikTok from Chinese parent ByteDance. If ByteDance doesn’t sell TikTok, the app could face a ban in the U.S. The legislation passed the Senate on Tuesday, alongside a package to provide billions of dollars in aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.

“TikTok allows small businesses and creators to find their people in their community,” Nichols told CNBC, ahead of the bill’s signing. “It gives everybody the opportunity to be able to provide for their family in a way that they have probably never provided for their family before. It has changed people’s lives.”

A ban could take years, as TikTok vowed to challenge it in court. But in the meantime, there’s a lot of uncertainty.

Small and medium-sized businesses that used TikTok supported 224,000 jobs in 2023, according to an Oxford Economics study paid for by TikTok. These businesses generated nearly $15 billion in revenue and contributed $24.2 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product in 2023, the study said.

So, this represents a considerable threat economically as people’s lives are currently being thrown into complete chaos thanks to this arbitrary ban.

Some supporters of this ban – frequently people who either never used the app or know nothing about how it works – often say that this is little more than an effort to fight “Big Tech”, yet this ban is antithetical to such alleged efforts. Players of “Big Tech” include Meta and Alphabet, owner of YouTube. Both players have had a stranglehold on the social media marketplace for many years now. TikTok represented a viable competitor to those established players, giving the social media landscape much needed competition.

Thanks to this ban legislation, “Big Tech” is basically celebrating the fact that one of their biggest rivals will soon be kicked out of one of the most populous countries on the planet. Thanks to convincing key players that this is an effort to “regulate Big Tech”, this ban being passed has enabled them to pop the champagne because one of their biggest rivals will soon no longer be a threat, further entrenching their positions as they consolidate even more power online. Ultimately, this is a massive setback in the efforts to hold the largest players powers in check.

The political dynamics is a bit odd in all of this too. For the Republican’s, their efforts to attack TikTok makes a bit more sense. In 2020, Donald Trump was holding a rally in Tulsa to boost is personal ego. Users on TikTok decided to engage in an effort to troll the rally organizers by buying up as many tickets as possible, then ultimately not showing up. The massive prank ultimately worked as the Tulsa rally was marked with huge swaths of empty seats filling the background, making it look like no one wanted anything to do with Trump.

That ultimately led to one of the more infamous shots of Trump where he was pictured doing the walk of shame across the White House lawn after:

So, overall, a massive humiliation for both Trump and the Republican party (which is often seen as one and the same these days). Fast forward to today, it’s very obvious why the party is wanting to exact revenge on the platform as a whole.

For Democrats, however, their support for banning TikTok is a much bigger head scratcher. A huge part of their voting base is often younger voters. Those same younger voters are also more likely to be users of TikTok either for their source of entertainment and getting news or their livelihoods in general. There is that political risk that those younger voters are going to be disgusted by the Democrats support for banning the app they’ve known and used all their lives that they might just choose not to vote at all.

So, what do Democrats hope to gain from banning TikTok? That’s been one of the bigger mysteries. At most, it was just something to convince Republican’s to get on board with voting for a bill that would give much needed aid to Ukraine, but beyond that, there really doesn’t seem to be anything big that the Democrats gain politically in all of this that offsets the voters being turned off by the move.

At any rate, the next likely step is legal action challenging this from the platform itself. Economic uncertainty is only going to rise thanks to this and the lives of hundreds of thousands of creators are basically hanging in the balance. After all, if you thought platform enshittification was bad, political enshittification is certainly making a strong case here that it can be a heck of a lot worse.

Drew Wilson on Mastodon, Twitter and Facebook.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top