Forced sale of TikTok “absolutely could” happen before election, Gallagher says
▶ Watch Video: Forced sale of TikTok “absolutely could” happen before the election, Rep. Mike Gallagher says

Washington — Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican, said on Sunday that the forced sale of TikTok “absolutely could” happen before November’s election, as legislation that would demand the sale — or ban the app altogether — makes its way through Congress.

“The closer we get to an election, the risk just gets greater and greater,” Gallagher said on “Face the Nation” on Sunday of the threat posed by the widely popular video-sharing app.

TikTok has for years been under fire by U.S. officials amid warnings that China’s government could gain access to its data and use it to manipulate or spy on Americans. But a renewed push against the app gained momentum last week, as the House approved legislation that would compel the company to either sell the app within six months or be banned from U.S. app stores.

Gallagher, who spearheaded the bill, noted that “it would be in the financial interest of ByteDance’s investors to effectuate before sale,” saying that the user experience of the app would likely improve with the decreased concern of propaganda should the company move away from China-based ownership, causing TikTok to increase in value.

On the risks that TikTok could pose to Americans, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat, said “this is a different type of threat than we’ve seen before.” He noted that TikTok differs from other social media platforms because it’s effectively controlled by a  foreign adversary. And lawmakers in the House widely seem to agree, as the legislation saw significant bipartisan support just last week. But whether the Senate agrees remains to be seen.

Krishnamoorthi noted that he’s had “very positive” conversations with senators who he says are “very interested in this bill and who were very surprised by the size or the margin of the overwhelming bipartisan support in the House.” But how quickly Senate leadership decides to act on the bill is an open question.

Kara Swisher, a business and tech journalist who appeared separately Sunday on “Face the Nation,” noted that “there’s a lot of people who would buy” TikTok, like the owners of Microsoft, Meta, Apple or a consortium of companies. But she said the question will revolve around what exactly they’re buying, noting that the algorithm behind the app will likely remain in China’s control.

“What do you buy precisely because the algorithm’s not coming with this company, the Chinese government would never let that happen,” Swisher said. “You’re buying 170 million say U.S. users and a great brand. But the algorithm isn’t there.”

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