Bill Maher Wants to Know Why AOC and Trump Agree TikTok Shouldn’t Be Banned | Video

The House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill Wednesday that could lead to a ban on TikTok in the United States. It passed the House 352 to 65. On Friday night, Bill Maher spoke with Republican Rep. Nancy Mace and Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna about some of the most surprising people to be in agreement that the popular app shouldn’t be banned, including Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and former President Donald Trump.

“Here’s what going on: TikTok, Owned by China — ByteDance, a Chinese company — worried about it poisoning our kid’s minds,” Maher began. “So, this has been brewing for a while — Trump brought it up when he was president, we should make TikTok sell to an American company or ban it.”

Now, he continued, the path to an outright ban on the app has become clear. “The Commerce Committee voted to ban or sell TikTok 50 to nothing,” he continued. “Fifty to nothing? I’ve never heard that in America, even when we got along.”

But perhaps more confusing to Maher: the list of people who’ve aligned against the ban. In addition to representatives from opposite sides of the political spectrum Mace and Khanna, the list of names includes Trump, the progressive leader Ocasio-Cortez and the far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene.

“Explain to me why the people who are lining up against the bill … saying, no, we can keep TikTok Chinese, what is the common ground there?” Maher asked his guests.

“Well, the common ground is the First Amendement and free speech,” Khanna said, getting an enthusiastic nod from Mace. “It shows how out of touch Congress is that of all the issues in the country, the thing we can get done in three days is ban TikTok?”

“You’ve got 72% of Americans who say, let’s pass a data privacy law, let’s make sure that our data doesn’t go to China, let’s make sure your data isn’t taken in an app. By the way, data is coming from data brokers as well,” Khanna added. “No, we don’t do that. We do something which 31% of Americans want.”

Khanna went on to question how connected many members of Congress are to people who use TikTok regularly. Ultimately, he added, “I am a strong believer in the First Amendment. It is just out of touch, frankly, what Congress has done.”

Mace echoed Khanna’s assertion that much of the opposition to the ban is “a First Amendment issue.” She added, “I think it’s potentially a Fifth Amendment issue. It’s not the government’s role to ban apps from the app store or ban websites.”

The bill has been described by lawmakers as less of an actual ban on TikTok, and more as legislation that would prohibit the app from being available in U.S. app stores as long as it is owned by ByteDance. The bill does not have a counterpart in the Senate, and it’s unclear if one will be adopted.

However, Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz, who writes about internet culture, is among those who’ve disputed the idea that this isn’t a total ban. “According to the company itself and so many experts, there is zero way that ByteDance could meet the terms of the sale even if they wanted to,” she explained.

“The way the bill is structured simply makes it impossible for them to sell. They would have to sell in such a quick timeframe, in a way that is just completely unfeasible,” Lorenz continued. “And I just want to take a minute to disabuse anyone of the notion that these lawmakers themselves who passed the bill think of it as anything other than an outright ban.”

Watch the conversation between Maher, Mace and Khanna in the video at the top of this story, and see Lorenz’s fact check of how lawmakers are talking about the ban in the video directly above this.

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