TikTok Encourages Users to Complain to Congress to Stop the Shutdown of the App

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Mar 15, 2024

TikTok is encouraging users to complain to their U.S. lawmakers after Congress made moves to ban the app throughout the country. Upon getting on the app, many TikTok users claimed to see a message urging them to get in touch with officials about this issue.

This latest TikTok notification comes amid the app facing growing congressional pressure. As the threat to ban the social media platform is again ignited, TikTok faces an uncertain future.

New TikTok Pop-Ups

According to a user on X (formerly known as Twitter), new TikTok pop-ups appear for users when they first log into the app. A message appears urging users to help stop a TikTok shutdown by calling their representatives.

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A close-up of a laptop screen with a tab open to TikTok.

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“When I opened TikTok today, I got this pop-up that gives you no option to exit or swipe away, the only action is to ‘call now,'” Casey Lewis wrote on X.

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No Way to Dismiss the Pop-Up

According to Lewis, there is no way to get rid of the pop-up. Therefore, users have to hit the “Call Now” button to dismiss the notification.

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A close-up of a smartphone screen that is open to TikTok

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Newsweek reached out to TikTok about these pop-ups. A spokesperson for the social media app confirmed that these notifications have been sent out to various users in the United States.

Not All Users Received Message

While TikTok did confirm that they sent out this message, it appears that not all U.S. TikTokkers received it. Only some took to social media to talk about the pop-up notification.

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Others responded that they had used TikTok throughout the day — yet still hadn’t received any similar message about contacting their representatives. Therefore, it’s not known exactly who received the message or didn’t.

TikTok and the Right to Free Speech

According to TikTok, their users may have their right to free speech violated if the app is banned throughout the United States.

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In this pop-up that many U.S. users received upon booting up the app, TikTok said, “Congress is planning a total ban of TikTok. Speak up now — before your government strips 170 million Americans of their Constitutional right to free expression.”

Congress Reignites Potential TikTok Ban

Congress threatening to ban TikTok throughout the United States is nothing new. However, this threat has been reignited recently after members of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) proposed legislation that would force ByteDance to divest from the app.

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ByteDance is the Chinese parent company of TikTok. If ByteDance does not divest and this legislation is passed, then TikTok could potentially be banned.

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What Congress Is Saying

Many House representatives have come out against TikTok and ByteDance, especially those who align with former President Donald Trump.

House Representative Mike Gallagher speaking into a microphone with another sitting behind him.

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“This is my message to TikTok: break up with the Chinese Communist Party or lose access to your American users,” Republican Representative Mike Gallagher said. “America’s foremost adversary has no business controlling a dominant media platform in the United States. TikTok’s time in the United States is over unless it ends its relationship with CCP-controlled ByteDance.”

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TikTok’s Response

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has long testified that the social media app is not controlled by China or the CCP.

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“Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” Chew said during his testimony in March. However, he also said he was aware that the U.S. had concerns it could be used by the Chinese Communist Party, as ByteDance has Chinese founders.

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President Biden’s Opinion

President Joe Biden has voiced his support for the bill. When asked if he would support the bipartisan bill, Biden said he will sign the bill if Congress passes it.

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Biden also referred to the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act when explaining why he would sign this bill.

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Donald Trump’s View

Former President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has said he believes TikTok is a national security threat. However, he doesn’t support banning the social media app. Trump also claimed that banning TikTok would only make Facebook bigger — something he seemingly doesn’t want.

Donald Trump wearing a red tie and suit against a black and dark blue background

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Even though Trump isn’t supporting a TikTok ban, many Republican supporters of his in Congress are leading the charge to get this legislation of a potential TikTok ban passed.

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How People Feel

Many TikTok users are angry over the idea of the social media app being banned throughout the country. This, alongside TikTok’s urgings, has led to many calling their representatives to halt the legislation.

A close-up of a phone open to their home screen with the TikTok app focused on.

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Many TikTok users who use the platform for their small businesses, or to make money through influencing, have also urged their representatives to rethink banning the app outright.

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TikTok’s Fate Will Be Decided Soon

This week, the House will vote on the bill that could potentially end up with TikTok being banned. This voting may be why TikTok decided to send out these messages urging users to contact their representatives.

A person holds their smartphone open to TikTok in a public space.

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President Biden’s support of the bill may also be why TikTok decided to act. Regardless of their reasoning, TikTok may soon face an uphill battle in being available to American users.

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