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    Eight TikTok creators file a lawsuit against the law banning TikTok in the US

    Eight TikTok creators have filed a lawsuit to stop the US government from implementing the law that bans TikTok in the country. This comes after TikTok filed a lawsuit of its own against the law, urging the court to declare it unconstitutional on grounds that the law violates its freedom of speech under the First Amendment of the US Constitution by determining any application operated by TikTok as a ‘foreign adversary-controlled application.’

    The creators have notably argued the same, saying that the law regulates speech by singling out and effectively banning a medium of communication— namely, TikTok. As per their lawsuit, the act “ erects an unconstitutional prior restraint by banning protected speech on TikTok and by empowering the President to pre-approve who may publish and edit TikTok’s service.” In turn, it also restricts the speech that the creators wish to disseminate on the platform.

    Some context:

    On March 5, US lawmakers introduced the “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act” which classifies ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company) as a foreign adversary. As per the act, apps and websites owned by ByteDance and TikTok must undergo a divestiture to continue to provide services in the US.

    The Act also gives the President discretionary power to approve any proposed divestiture (sale) of TikTok to a new owner or entity. When approving the divestiture deal, the President must ensure that the new U.S. owner of TikTok completely severs all operational ties, including around the content recommendation algorithm and data sharing, from ByteDance and any other entities under Chinese control that were previously affiliated with TikTok.

    On April 23, the bill was passed by the US Senate and signed into law by the President.

    Key points being made in the creators’ lawsuit:

    The sale of the platform would affect the algorithm:

    The lawsuit highlights that TikTok operates differently from other social media platforms. It allows users to explore new content and creators without personalizing their feeds themselves. Its personalization is driven by the platform’s distinct recommendation algorithm, which curates a unique and personalized compilation of videos for individual users based on judgments from how they interact with videos about what types of content are likely to be most interesting to them. The algorithm amplifies creators’ reach and allows them not only to get more viewers but also to reach specific audiences.

    “TikTok’s defining traits stem from the editorial decisions it makes using its proprietary content recommendation technology,” the creators argue, adding that TikTok wouldn’t be TikTok without this technology. They mention that they have “personally experienced ownership and editorial changes that alter expression on other social media platforms.” Ownership changes also affect the types of content that the platforms publish and promote. The creators gave the example of X’s (formerly Twitter) acquisition by Elon Musk. One of them expressed concern that if TikTok was forced to divest, the new owner may follow the steps of other social media platforms and may, for example, allow political advertising, which would fundamentally change the user experience.

    Creators don’t get the same reach on other platforms:

    Adding to the point about how TikTok’s algorithm is different from that of other platforms, the creators explained that all of them have tried using other platforms but haven’t received the same amount of success elsewhere. One of them has even tried to post the same content to different platforms, with videos performing vastly better on TikTok. The creator attributes this better performance to TikTok’s algorithm.

    The government has not found a basis to justify its ban:

    The creators explain that there is no conceivable legitimate interest that would warrant shutting down an entire media platform used by millions that could not be achieved through narrower regulation. The lawsuit states that US lawmakers’ are arguing that the app spreads Chinese propaganda, but without any evidence.

    The US government has previously tried (and lost) at attempts to block TikTok:

    The lawsuit accounts for various instances where lawmakers in the US have attempted to block TikTok only for the courts to shut them down. For instance, when in 2020 former US President Donald Trump tried to block TikTok, the court held that the President lacked the authority to do so, even if the ban was an attempt to protect national security. While the court found, ample evidence that China generally poses a credible national security threat, it found no “specific evidence” of a threat stemming from TikTok.

    Also read:

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    The post Eight TikTok creators file a lawsuit against the law banning TikTok in the US appeared first on MediaNama.

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