Senate Poised to Decide TikTok’s Fate After House OKs Ban

( – The US Senate will debate the future of the video-sharing platform TikTok after the House of Representatives passed a bill that could lead to nationwide prohibition. The bill passed with bipartisan support by 352-65 votes and demands that Chinese owner Bytedance sell the popular social media platform or face a US ban. Bytedance is the sole owner of TikTok, which has more than 170 million American users and is one of the world’s most popular social media sites.

Despite its popularity, or perhaps because of it, many US lawmakers consider TikTok to be both a national security threat and hazardous to the mental health of young Americans. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) could use TikTok to obtain data about US citizens and use algorithms to propagandize to young Americans, its critics argue. Chinese law allows the CCP to “require” all individuals and businesses to hand over any intelligence they hold.

Furthermore, many experts warn that the platform could have a significant and detrimental impact on young people’s mental health. Psychologist Dr. Jean Twenge says TikTok’s algorithms are “sophisticated” and designed to keep people engaged for longer and to feed content she considers “problematic.”

For instance, Dr. Twenge and others believe that exposure to social media is causing a rise in depression, particularly among young girls, who are its most prolific users. Twenge warns that around a quarter of female American teens suffer depression, partly because of self-image and low self-esteem that is exacerbated by online content.

The new legislation has prompted fury from China, which calls it an act of “bullying.” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said it flies in the face of US commitment to fair competition and international trade.

Senator Chuck Schumer did not hint at the bill’s potential progress in the upper chamber but said it would be thoroughly examined. President Biden confirmed he will sign the legislation if both chambers approve it. If passed, Bytedance will have five months to sell the platform.

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