TikTok is encouraging its users to call their representatives about attempts to ban the app

TikTok is stepping up its efforts to fight a new bill that could force a ban of the app in the United States. The app has been alerting its millions of US users about the measure, which would force ByteDance to sell TikTok in order for the app to remain available in US app stores.

“TikTok is at risk of being shut down in the US,” the push notification says. “Call your representative now.” An in-app message then instructs users to “speak up now — before your government strips 170 million Americans of their Constitutional right to free expression.” It also provides users a shortcut to dial their representative’s office if they enter their zip code.

The push alerts are reportedly already having a dramatic effect. Politico reporter Olivia Beavers said that House staffers report their offices are being inundated with calls. One staffer said on X that “we’re getting a lot of calls from high schoolers asking what a Congressman is.”

Unfortunately for TikTok, their plan to stir up resistance to the bill may not be having the intended effect. The flood of calls may in fact be “backfiring,” according to Beavers, who says the response may be increasing support for the bill among members of Congress. In a post on X, Representative Mike Gallagher, who chairs the select committee that introduced the bill, said the push notifications were “interfering with the legislative process.” TikTok didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The alerts come amid growing support for the measure, which was introduced earlier this week by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Committee members are expected to vote Thursday on whether to advance the bill. President Joe Biden, whose administration has also sought to force a divestiture of TikTok, is reportedly supportive of the bill. As Punchbowl News notes, previous bills to ban TikTok have not had the backing of the White House.

If passed, the bill would give TikTok about six months to separate itself from ByteDance or else an app store ban would take effect. Digital rights groups oppose the measure. The ACLU has called it “unconstitutional,” while other groups say that comprehensive privacy legislation would be a more effective way to protect Americans’ data.

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