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TikTok bill sponsors slam company over ‘deceptive pop-up’ campaign

The lead sponsors of a bill that would force TikTok’s parent company to divest the popular app or face a ban in the U.S. sent a letter to the company Monday bashing its use of a pop-up notification campaign last week urging users to call Congress about the measure.

Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the top lawmakers on the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, called the “deceptive pop-up” a “new low” for TikTok.

“Using your platform to deceive the American people about bipartisan U.S. legislation underscores the clear necessity of the bill currently under consideration,” they wrote.

“Next week, TikTok could be spreading false information about a war. This fall, it could be about our elections,” they added.

TikTok sent users a notification Thursday that urged them to call Congress to “stop a TikTok shutdown,” as the House Energy and Commerce Committee prepared to vote on the “Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act.” The panel advanced the bill unanimously.

In response to the letter, TikTok’s policy account on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, said it is “shameful members of Congress would complain about hearing from their own constituents.”

“We will continue educating the 170M Americans who love TikTok about what’s happening,” TikTok said.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said he will bring the bill to a floor vote this week.

President Biden said he would sign the bill if passed by Congress.

The bill specifically named TikTok as a foreign adversary controlled app and calls for ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, to divest TikTok within 165 days of the law going into place or face a ban in the U.S. The bill also puts in place a process for the president to be able to designate other apps operated with ties to Russia, China, Iran or North Korea.

TikTok, though, has pushed back strongly and said the bill has a “predetermined outcome: a total ban of TikTok in the United States.”

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