Can You Guess Who’s Financing User Lawsuit Against Montana TikTok Ban?

June 28th, 2023 3:55 PM

TikTok influencers just let the cat out of the bag with a lawsuit against Montana for banning the social media platform.

Multiple states have banned or restricted the popular app TikTok, which is tied to the Communist Chinese government, as concerns rise that the app is spyware. As Montana’s ban on TikTok from operating in the state is set to take effect Jan. 1, TikTok is seemingly growing desperate.

The Chinese-tied app not only filed its own lawsuit but also finally acknowledged that it was financing a lawsuit against Montana from five creators, according to The New York Times.

Five Montana TikTok influencers sued Montana last month, claiming the ban not only exceeded the state government’s authority, but even undermined their First Amendment rights. TikTok reportedly dodged questions about its potential involvement, opting instead to file its own lawsuit. But then two of the suing TikTok creators admitted to The Times that TikTok was financing their case.

TikTok spokeswoman Jodi Seth reportedly tried to justify TikTok’s backing as a free speech effort. “Many creators have expressed major concerns both privately and publicly about the potential impact of the Montana law on their livelihoods,” Seth claimed. “We support our creators in fighting for their constitutional rights.”

Seth did not, of course, address the issue of TikTok as potential spyware, as the social media platform has connections to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, in which the CCP government has a board seat and a financial stake. Multiple whistleblowers and an investigation have presented evidence that ByteDance has direct access to U.S. TikTok data.

This lawsuit isn’t the first time TikTok has attempted to thwart a ban. TikTok also successfully evaded a ban by then-Donald Trump in 2020 by funding a creator lawsuit, The Times noted. It’s trying the same tactic in Montana. The company even flew its creators in March to Washington D.C. as its CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before Congress.

At the time, there was a growing bipartisan consensus condemning TikTok, although some Democrats rallied to the platform’s defense. President Joe Biden, meanwhile, hired TikTok influencers for his “Biden in the Basement 2.0” presidential campaign. Most recently, the Biden White House faced intense scrutiny after hosting a “transgender” TikTok influencer, Rose Montoya, who went full-on topless at a so-called family-friendly Pride event.

But TikTok’s risks remain such that state lawmakers and governors, like Montana’s, have taken decisive action. A new lawsuit from a former ByteDance executive even alleges that the CCP can access U.S. user data and that ByteDance pushes CCP propaganda on TikTok. ByteDance was also recently caught with a digital library of forbidden word lists used to censor people who decry its Communist Chinese overlords, according to Forbes.

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