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Members of Congress are getting pushback on the TikTok ban from their own angry Gen Z kids

Lindsay Dodgson   

Members of Congress are getting pushback on the TikTok ban from their own angry Gen Z kids
  • Politicians who support the proposed TikTok ban are facing backlash from their own children.
  • Some said their kids begged them not support a ban, fearing they would "get bullied" at school.

Members of Congress who voted in favor of banning TikTok in the US unless its parent company sells it have faced backlash from their own kids.

Several elected officials spoke with The Wall Street Journal about how their children reacted to their stances. Many said they were scolded or begged to reconsider.

The bill passed the House overwhelmingly on March 13 — 352 Representatives voted in favor, and 65 voted against.

It is now awaiting a similar vote in the Senate. If it is approved there, President Joe Biden is poised to sign it into law.

Supporters of the bill said the Chinese government holds power over TikTok and can use it to sway opinions or spread misinformation, though TikTok has repeatedly attempted to distance itself from ByteDance and denies that Beijing influences it.

Critics of the ban say it's a government overreach that infringes on their freedom of speech and will harm the income of millions of Americans. A ban may also backfire on the reelection campaign of President Joe Biden, who supports it.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a Democrat representing New Jersey's 5th District, told The Journal his daughter was "up in arms about the whole thing" and told him, "You can't do that."

Rep. Hillary Scholten, a Democrat with a seat in Michigan, told the outlet her son's friends asked her during the school run if she was one of the people "who's banning TikTok."

Most politicians didn't give their kids' ages, describing them as teens and tweens, but anybody in school who's aged 12 or over is part of Gen Z, the cohort most strongly associated with TikTok.

Sen. John Fetterman, a Democrat who represents Pennsylvania, said he received pleas from his young daughter.

"I'm driving home and she sent me some texts, and it was 'please don't destroy TikTok, I'm going to get bullied,'" he said.

Sen. Todd Young, an Indiana Republican, said his children were "really tough bargainers" who were not sympathetic to his arguments.

But he predicted they would easily find a different app to use if TikTok were to disappear.

Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican from Texas, told the outlet he doesn't allow his kids to use their phones unsupervised.

"We have a rule that when kids come over they have to drop off their devices in a basket," he said. "We have a duty as parents — we can't get whipsawed around because kids want an app."

However, some lawmakers did listen to what their kids had to say.

Rep. Nancy Mace, a Republican from South Carolina, said her two teenagers were "trying to lobby me" over dinner.

"They wanted to make sure I wasn't going to vote to ban TikTok," she told The Journal.

Mace voted "no," and her kids found this out on TikTok.

"My kids are very happy with mom, they are not embarrassed this time," she said.

Young people have been fighting back against the bill, joining the app's call to arms by contacting their representatives to explain what a ban would mean for them.

Some influencers and small business owners fear a ban will destroy their livelihoods, with years of content and hard work "deleted forever."

Rep. Jeff Jackson, a Democrat with a seat in North Carolina, faced a lot of criticism publicly as a lawmaker who has benefited from TikTok, gaining 2.3 million followers there.

Young people on TikTok said they felt "betrayed" by Jackson's decision to vote "yes" to the bill and accused him of double standards.

His office told Business Insider he was sorry for how he handled communicating the news to his followers, but did not regret his vote.