TikTok creators sue the U.S. government over pending ban


Participants hold signs in support of TikTok outside the U.S. Capitol Building on March 13, 2024 in Washington, DC.

Eight TikTok creators are suing the U.S. government in order to prevent a law that would ban the app unless its parent company divests.

First reported by the Washington Post, the 33-page complaint was filed Tuesday, arguing that the law violates First Amendment rights by “[promising] to shutter a discrete medium of communication that has become part of American life”, calling the law an “extraordinary restraint on speech.”

“In supporting the Act, lawmakers claimed that TikTok ‘manipulate[s]’ American minds and disseminates ‘propaganda’ that would ‘use our country’s free marketplace to undermine our love for liberty.’ But it is the Act that undermines the nation’s founding principles and free marketplace of ideas,” reads the complaint.

The case, filed in the the federal Court of Appeals in DC, is asking for the court to declare the law unconstitutional and ultimately prevent it from being enforced.

The creators, who also expressed in the complaint how TikTok has changed their lives and livelihoods, range across home states, age, and occupations. The list is as follows: cattle rancher Brian Firebaugh (@cattleguy), baker Chloe Joy Sexton (@chloebluffcakes), activist and creator Kiera Spann (@famousblonde), rapper Topher Townsend (@tophertownmusic), lifestyle creator Talia Cadet (@taliacadet), footballer Timothy Marin (@timbosliceoflife12), Love & Pebble co-founder Paul Tran (@loveandpebble), and beauty and comedy influencer Steven King (@btypep).

Some of the petitioners, including Townsend, Spann, and Firebaugh, have posted on TikTok about their decision to take up the suit. Townsend explained, “No platform is perfect and TikTok is the closest I’ve found to this day,” adding in the video that he is “forever grateful” to the app. According to the Washington Post, each of the creators explained that TikTok is an invaluable instrument for self-expression, speech, and connection.

The suit also stated that TikTok has a “profound effect on American life”, and expressed how the app changed the lives of the petitioners: “They have found their voices, amassed significant audiences, made new friends, and encountered new and different ways of thinking—all because of TikTok’s novel way of hosting, curating, and disseminating.”

King, one of the petitioners, told the Post, “On TikTok, we’re able to consume and receive information that is not filtered, that hasn’t had a narrative driven by politicians. We have direct access to find out what is happening around the world at our fingertips.”

The creators are represented by Seattle-based firm Davis Wright Tremaine, which specializes in cases involving the First Amendment and previously represented five TikTok creators in Montana when they fought last year’s proposed state ban (which was also passed into law).

TikTok itself is covering the creators’ attorney fees for this suit. The app is currently suing the government, too, having filed a lawsuit on May 7, shortly after President Biden signed the bill into law. TikTok’s suit called the ban “unconstitutional”.

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