Senator Mitch McConnell Calls TikTok ‘One of Beijing’s Favorite Tools of Coercion & Espionage’

Mitch McConnell TikTok ban comments
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Mitch McConnell TikTok ban comments
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Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / CC by 2.0

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has endorsed an effort that requires ByteDance to divest from TikTok or face a potential ban in the United States.

“America’s greatest strategic rival is threatening our security right here on U.S. soil, in tens of millions of American homes,” the Senate Republican Leader said yesterday on the Senate floor. “I’m speaking, of course, about TikTok.” TikTok has more than 170 million American users, growing exponentially over the last five years.

“Requiring the divestment of Beijing-influenced entities from TikTok would land squarely within established Constitutional precedent. And it would begin to turn back t he tide of an enormous threat to America’s children and to our nation’s prospects in the defining competition of the 21st century,” McConnell continued.

“This is a matter that deserves Congress’ urgent attention. And I’ll support, common sense, bipartisan steps to take one of Beijing’s favorite tools of coercion and espionage off the table,” he adds. “With TikTok, we’re not talking about meddling or hijacking an American platform. In this case, PRC influence and control have been baked in from the beginning. With Beijing’s blessing, TikTok’s algorithm pours gasoline on alarming trends.”

McConnell adds that the fight for Senators will come down to the platform’s conduct rather than the content. “There’s a serious difference between the views Americans might express on TikTok and the actions taken by a platform that’s beholden to our foremost strategic competitor.”

The potential TikTok ban passed the U.S. House of Representatives 352-65 in March, and is now up for consideration in the Senate. Meanwhile, ByteDance has increased its Washington lobbying spend—reaching more than $8.74 million in 2023 alone.

ByteDance spent a record $5.3 million in 2022 and that growth trend appears to be continuing as a potential TikTok crackdown looms on the horizon. Both Senate Leaders Mitch McConnell for the Republicans and Chuck Schumer for the Democrats have expressed interest in expediting the issue.

However the issue does shake out as it is slow-walked through the Senate, DMN Pro has examined potential winners and losers should the ban take effect.