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Three Politicians Who Voted for the TikTok ‘Ban’ Have Active Accounts

The U.S. passed a bipartisan bill on Wednesday to force ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, to divest from the social media platform or face a complete ban in the country. The bill passed 352 to 65 and needs to be taken up by the Senate and signed by President Joe Biden to become law. But we couldn’t help noticing something interesting in the final vote total from the House. At least three members of Congress who voted for the “ban” still have very active accounts on TikTok.

Who voted for the bill while maintaining a TikTok account that’s posted a new video within the past week?

Rep. Jackson is a prolific TikToker who posted a new video just yesterday talking about the bill and defending his vote. The way Jackson tells it, he believes ByteDance will just sell the company, something he supports, and TikTok won’t be banned in the long term.

“Why tell them they have to sell? The bottom line is there is a serious concern that the Chinese government can influence what you see on your For You page,” Jackson said.

Gizmodo reached out to all three congressmen for comment but didn’t immediately hear back Wednesday afternoon.

There were also at least three accounts from members of Congress who voted for the ban but haven’t posted in a long time.

Rep. Takano signed up for TikTok in 2019 and hasn’t posted a new video since 2020, while Rep. Houlahan and Rep. Wilson appear to have stopped posting in late 2022. The U.S. banned TikTok on all government-owned phones in December 2022, which may explain their choice.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, voted for the ban on Wednesday and has an account but has never posted a video. As you can see, every politician on the list is a Democrat, perhaps a symptom of the party’s desire to appeal to young people, though it’s not necessarily an explanation for how you can vote on banning the platform while keeping your account.

TikTok has roughly 170 million users in the U.S. across a wide range of ages, but there’s been a long-held perception that TikTok is the place to engage with younger Americans. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew highlighted the distorted perception of the social media platform as “a dancing app for teenagers” in congressional testimony last summer, noting the average user is actually “an adult well past college.”

The political ideologies of the people who voted for or against the bill were all over the map, with some Republicans making the case that they were voting against the bill on free speech grounds. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, doesn’t have a TikTok account, but he compared a potential ban to something that would only happen in an authoritarian country.

“TikTok is banned in China. So, we’re going to emulate the Chinese communists by banning it in our country?” Paul asked during an interview on Tuesday.

Democrats who were against the bill, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said early Wednesday that she’d be voting against the bill because it had been “rushed,” emerging from committee in just four days, while raising concerns about privacy rights as well as the question of whether TikTok really was a threat to national security, as many have claimed.

“There are serious antitrust and privacy questions here, and any national security concerns should be laid out to the public prior to a vote,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on X.

But, again, the bill in the House passed with bipartisan support, as both Republicans and Democrats came together to get the bill over the finish line, despite a last-minute reversal from the leader of the Republican Party, Donald Trump.

It’s not a huge surprise that some members of Congress who voted for the TikTok ban would have accounts, given the incredibly fast way in which this legislation came about. But Rep. Jackson, Rep. Allred, and Rep. Casten will probably get some heat back in their home districts over the appearance of hypocrisy.

Or maybe not. After all, TikTok is enormously popular in the U.S. and the idea that hypocrisy might harm a political campaign is now an old-fashioned concept that died somewhere around 2015 or 2016. Trump’s the guy who’s now against a ban that he signed into an Executive Order just a few years ago. And the cognitive dissonance required to look at that kind of reversal while still believing he’s a man of principle may be just the recipe that catapults him back into the White House.

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