Washington’s Renewed Urgency for TikTok Ban Is Due to War on Gaza – WSJ

by | Mar 15, 2024

Washington’s Renewed Urgency for TikTok Ban Is Due to War on Gaza – WSJ

by | Mar 15, 2024

tiktok logo

The renewed urgency to pass a bill to ban TikTok emerged due to Washington’s concerns about how its users were interacting with content regarding the Israeli war in Gaza. Many of TikTok’s users share pro-Palestinian messages far more frequently than pro-Israeli viewpoints.

The public debate between members of the House of Representatives centers around Chinese ownership of TikTok and the Chinese government’s level of influence over the platform. However, renewed interest in passing the legislation only materialized in Washington because many of TikTok’s users share content with an overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian message.

Glenn Greenwald drew attention to the issue on his nightly show, System Update. He explained that the TikTok ban bill made no progress over four years because of the app’s popularity among young Americans. Greenwald went on to report that members of Congress and Washington insiders on both sides of the aisle were spurred to act immediately by the platform’s overwhelming pro-Palestinian content.

On Wednesday, a majority of Democrats and Republicans in the House voted in favor of the bill. President Joe Biden said he would sign it if it reached his desk. The administration helped Congress craft some of the language in the bill.

Jacob Helberg, a member of a congressional research and advisory panel called the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, spoke with the Wall Street Journal about Congress’ recent change of attitude. Officials from TikTok said the bill regained momentum so quickly that it was caught off guard.

“It was slow going until Oct. 7. The attack that day in Israel by Hamas and the ensuing conflict in Gaza became a turning point in the push against TikTok,” Helberg said, according to WSJ. “People who historically hadn’t taken a position on TikTok became concerned with how Israel was portrayed in the videos and what they saw as an increase in antisemitic content posted to the app.”

The bill’s author is Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), one of the most outspoken China hawks in Washington and the chair of the House subcommittee on China. He explained that the likelihood of the legislation becoming law has sharply increased because he and other members of the China committee believed the platform was exposing users to too much Pro-Palestinian content.

Proponents of the legislation argue that TikTok’s young users are manipulated by the Chinese government through the app. However, the pro-Palestinian viewpoint alarming members of Congress is widely shared among TikTok’s core demographic.

Around half of TikTok’s users and content creators are 18-34. Support for Tel Aviv and President Biden has been dropping among that demographic as Israel’s five-month slaughter in Gaza has killed over 31,000 Palestinians and caused a humanitarian nightmare. About half of voting Americans under 35 believe Israel is conducting a genocide in Gaza.

This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.

About Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

Our Books

latest book lineup.

Related Articles