As expected, a group of pro-TikTok influencers made a joint statement in Washington, D.C. on March 22. Upon their arrival, the short-form content creators took to Capitol Hill, where they urged Congressional leaders not to ban an app that supports their respective careers.
TikTok announced earlier this week that it would cover travel expenses to send dozens of creators to the U.S. capital. The initiative is timed to serve as a prelude to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew‘s appearance before Congress, which will occur on March 23. The app’s chief is expected to argue that his company does not deserve a nationwide ban because its data collection practices are not as big of a security risk as lawmakers seem to believe. The bipartisan RESTRICT Act, which has received praise from the Biden White House, was introduced during the first week of March.
In Congress, TikTok may be a boogeyman with concerning ties to the Chinese government, but the influencers who flocked to D.C. don’t see it that way. “TikTok is not a children’s dancing app,” said Gen Z political activist Aidan Kohn-Murphy. “It is one of the most powerful tools that young people have to engage each other and to get civically involved.” Kohn-Murphy punctuated his trip to D.C. by shouting “twink” in the Capitol rotunda.
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Teacher Deirdre Kelly and veteran Patriotic Kenny, who both reach millions of followers with their vertical videos, echoed Kohn-Murphy’s concerns about the dangers of a TikTok ban. They characterized the controversial app as a potent outlet that allows them to engage members of their community. TikTok has touted its role among veterans through a docuseries titled TikTok Sparks Good.
During their visit to Washington, the influencers met up with some of their political allies. One of the most notable leaders who opposes a TikTok ban is New York Representative Jamaal Bowman, who has said that his Congressional colleagues are the victims of a mass “hysteria.”
Kohn-Murphy, Kelly, and the rest of their pro-TikTok lobbying group have now made their points, but there’s only so much they can do to support the app. The real test comes during Chew’s Congressional appearance a day later, and that’s the event that could decide what TikTok’s U.S. future will look like.