TikTok is funding the user-filed lawsuit against the Montana ban on the social media app. Here’s the latest.
A report from The New York Times confirms that five creators on the platform who sued the state over the ban are having their legal bills financed by TikTok. TikTok refused to answer straight forward questions about whether or not it was bankrolling this lawsuit, as it funded the 2020 creator lawsuit against the ban by former President Donald Trump.
“Many creators have expressed major concerns both privately and publicly about the potential impact of the Montana law on their livelihoods,” says Ms. Jodi Seth, a spokesperson for TikTok. “We support our creators in fighting for their constitutional rights.”
The Montana ban on TikTok is set to go in effect on January 1, 2024. It also includes stiff penalties for making the app available for download to Montanans, including a $10,000 a day fine that could place Apple and Google in a rough spot. The Montana TikTok ban passed through on concerns that TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, could potentially share American data with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government in China.
The New York Times report says some of the creators involved in the ‘grassroots’ Montana suit have refused to talk about how they were brought into the suit. But at least two of them discussed being contacted by lawyers working for TikTok. That includes Heather DiRocco, a 36-year-old mom with 200,000 followers on TikTok. DiRocco encouraged others to use the #MTlovesTikTok hashtag on video and to call the Montana governor’s office to express frustration with the ban.
TikTok’s lawyers reached out to her in April 2023 to see if she would be interested in being a plaintiff in the grassroots lawsuit. DiRocco said she was intrigued and decided to participate after learning she would not have to pay the law firm leading the challenge from her own pocket.
The Davis Wright Tremaine law firm representing grassroots TikTok users is the same one that represented users in the 2020 lawsuit against Trump’s ban. The firm contacted many creators in TikTok to let them know they would help file and pay for any lawsuit vs. the Montana ban.