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TikTok user Jeff Jackson votes in favor of ban, while TikTok skeptic Dan Bishop votes no

Democrat Jeff Jackson and Republican Dan Bishop differed Wednesday on a vote to force Chinese company ByteDance to sell TikTok.
X @RepDanBishop /TikTok @JeffJacksonNC
Democrat Jeff Jackson and Republican Dan Bishop differed Wednesday on a vote to force Chinese company ByteDance to sell TikTok.

Charlotte Democratic Rep. Jeff Jackson, a prolific TikTok user, voted Wednesday in favor of forcing TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, to sell the cellphone app or be banned in the United States.

His opponent in this fall’s race for North Carolina attorney general, Republican Rep. Dan Bishop, voted against the ban. He frequently criticizes Jackson for using the app.

The seemingly odd votes came as the House overwhelmingly passed the bill on a bipartisan basis, with 352 members voting yes and 65 voting no.

The 13 other members of North Carolina’s delegation voted in favor of the ban.

Jackson, who has 2.5 million TikTok followers, uses the app to communicate with voters.

When he entered the attorney general’s race last fall, Bishop sent out a news release criticizing Jackson, “welcoming the Chinese social media star to the race.”

But Bishop said right before he voted that having the federal government ban the platform would violate the First Amendment. In the past, Bishop has objected to the U.S. government trying to influence social media companies about what content to allow.

“I don’t use TikTok. I think it’s ill-advised to do so,” he said. “Members of this body are famous on TikTok, and I think that’s unwise. But I respect the choices of 170 million users in the United States.”

Jackson has continued to use the app, even as both Republicans and Democrats have questioned ByteDance’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party. Some worry that the Chinese government could use the app to harvest the personal information of Americans or shape their political views by showing them videos from only one perspective.

Jackson has said he doesn’t post videos on his government phone, though by using the app he’s encouraging other people to use it as well.

In the past, Jackson has said that ByteDance should sell its stake in the company.

In a statement Wednesday, Jackson said “The best-case scenario is that TikTok continues to operate but is no longer owned — and potentially controlled — by an adversarial government.”

The TikTok vote created some strange alliances.

While Bishop is a Freedom Caucus member, progressive Democrats also voted against the ban. They include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

In South Carolina, Democrat Jim Clyburn and Republican Nancy Mace also voted against the potential ban.

President Donald Trump once favored banning TikTok, but recently reversed his position, saying that would only help Facebook.

The bill moves to the Senate, where it faces a tougher road to passage.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.