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X owner Elon Musk says he's opposed to US ban of competitor TikTok

By Agence France-Presse Published Apr 20, 2024 9:23 am

Elon Musk on Friday, April 19 came out against banning TikTok in the United States, even if it would mean less competition for his social media platform X as the initiative sees fresh bipartisan momentum in Congress.

The US House of Representatives is set to vote on Saturday, April 20 on a bill that would force TikTok to divest from Chinese parent company ByteDance or face a nationwide ban.

The measure, which has the vocal backing by many Democrats and Republicans, has also been written into a massive aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, which could ease its passage in both chambers of the US Congress.

"TikTok should not be banned in the USA, even though such a ban may benefit the X platform," Musk said in a post on the social network he acquired in 2022.

"Doing so would be contrary to freedom of speech and expression."

A number of replies to Musk's comment on X expressed concern that a TikTok ban would set a precedent that could be used to target other social media and messaging services.

Under the bill, ByteDance would have to sell the app within a few months or be excluded from Apple and Google's app stores in the United States.

It would also give the US president the authority to designate other applications as a threat to national security if they are controlled by a country deemed hostile.

TikTok slammed the bill, saying it would hurt the US economy and undermine free speech. 

"It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill," a company spokesman said.

He added a ban would "trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform that contributes $24 billion to the US economy annually."

Western officials have voiced alarm over the popularity of TikTok with young people, alleging that it is subservient to Beijing and a conduit to spread propaganda, claims denied by the company and Beijing.

Joe Biden reiterated his concerns about TikTok during a phone call with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in early April.

The House of Representatives last month approved a similar bill cracking down on TikTok, but the measure got held up in the Senate. (AFP)