TikTok Backlash as Congress Heads for Vote to Force Sale - Kanebridge News
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TikTok Backlash as Congress Heads for Vote to Force Sale

By Janet H. Cho 
Fri, Mar 8, 2024 10:10amGrey Clock 2 min

TikTok urged its users to call Congress and lawmakers to drop a bill that could ban the popular video-sharing app in the U.S., and those users listened.

But the plan backfired. Instead of dropping the bill, which was introduced just two days ago, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved it in a 50-0 vote Thursday afternoon. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said he’s bringing it to a floor vote.

That was after beleaguered house staffers across the Capitol grounds endured hours of office phones ringing off the hook in an all-out push from TikTok users.

While TikTok the company has criticized efforts to ban it or crack down on it, this week’s legislative move prompted the social media company to appeal directly to users.

“TikTok is at risk of being shut down in the U.S. Call your representative now,” the app told its users when they logged into their accounts.

The app asked users to enter their ZIP codes and then directed them to their local congressional representatives.

TikTok was responding to a measure proposed Tuesday by Reps. Mike Gallagher (R, Wisc.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D, Ill.), co-chairs of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, that claims TikTok “poses a grave threat to U.S. national security.”

TikTok, based in Singapore, is owned by China-based ByteDance, and that’s what lawmakers object to. The measure focuses on “foreign adversary controlled applications.” It would require ByteDance to divest of TikTok about five months after the law is passed, or risk being removed from app stores in the U.S.

That would make it illegal to distribute TikTok through any U.S. app store or from any U.S. web-hosting platform. TikTok says that is effectively a ban of the platform.

A TikTok spokesperson told Barron’s that “This legislation has a predetermined outcome: a total ban of TikTok in the United States.”

“The government is attempting to strip 170 million Americans of their Constitutional right to free expression,” spokesperson Alex Haurek said. “This will damage millions of businesses, deny artists an audience, and destroy the livelihoods of countless creators across the country.”

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew and others have repeatedly insisted that ByteDance and TikTok aren’t controlled by the Chinese government or Chinese Communist Party, and that U.S. user data is stored securely in Singapore and the U.S.

Krishnamoorthi said on X that TikTok has “launched a massive propaganda campaign, requiring users to call their representatives, and falsely labeling our legislation a ‘total ban’ of TikTok.”

“Phones are completely bogged down hearing from students, young adults, adults, and business owners who are all concerned at the option of losing their access to the platform,” a Republican aide told Axios.

The National Security Council has called the bill “an important and welcome step” to addressing risks to sensitive U.S. data, and the White House has said that if Congress passes it, President Joe Biden would sign it.


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Milestone birthdays and anniversaries, weddings, and graduations are momentous life occasions that some like to mark with large and elaborate celebrations.

And the deep-pocketed set are still in catch-up mode after a party-throwing standstill during the pandemic that went on for many months during the height of the lockdowns and social distancing. Bashes since then have become ever more extravagant and experiential—mere get-togethers, they’re not.

Hosts are also seeking any excuse to throw an event and having parties with the same “wow” factor for far less significant reasons, or for micro-occasions as they’re called, and even “just because,” according to luxury event planners who work with this elite set.

Colin Cowie, a planner based in New York and Miami who regularly orchestrates multimillion-dollar gatherings and was behind Jennifer Lopez’s and Ben Affleck’s wedding, calls it the “event revolution.”

“Large-scale events have become the norm,” Cowie says. “The wealthy, who are used to celebrating their life moments in a big way couldn’t do anything during the pandemic and are now going all out for anything they host.”

His company, Colin Cowie Lifestyle, plans 30% more events today than pre-Covid and has a lineup booked for the next two years. An example includes an upcoming million-dollar dinner party in the Hamptons simply to socialise with friends. It’s an affair with free-flowing Dom Perignon, centre-cut filet mignons, and unlimited caviar.

Colin Cowie Lifestyle plans 30% more events today than pre-Covid
Calen Rose

Other high-end planners also attribute the rise of over-the-top celebrations to a “live life to the fullest” attitude that’s become prevalent in the last few years. But they say that these parties aren’t necessarily about spending more than before—rather, they’re increasingly creative, thoughtful, and, with respect to weddings, longer.

Lynn Easton, a Charleston-based planner, says that her typical wedding used to span two days and entailed a rehearsal dinner plus the wedding itself. “Now, it’s a five-day bonanza with events like a groomsman lunch,” Easton says.

Easton also plans glitzy milestone birthdays such as one for a 60th where the host flew 60 friends and family to a private island. Dinners were multi-hour affairs in various locations around the isle with the showpiece being a five-course meal where the food was presented on dishes that were hand-carved in ice.

Another planner, Victoria Dubin, based in New York and Miami, says that, in a new precedent, the weddings she’s tapped to design kick off with striking welcome meals. She recently planned an al fresco rehearsal dinner at the Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s that recreated a Tuscan garden. Elements included potted herbs, lemon trees, vintage olive oil cans, ceramic plates, and table cards presented with palm leaves in limoncello cans.

Another planner, Victoria Dubin, recently planned an al fresco rehearsal dinner at the Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s that recreated a Tuscan garden.
Aletiza Photo

Pashmina shawls hung from chairs to keep guests warm, and freshly baked pizzas and Aperol spritzes were in ready supply throughout the evening.

Stacy Teckin, the groom’s mother, hosted the party with her husband, Ian, and says she sought to pull off a dinner that made an impression on their guests. “The wedding was delayed because of Covid, and now that we had the chance to celebrate, we wanted to go all out,” Teckin says. “I’m not sure we would have done that before.”

In another example, acclaimed planner Norma Cohen threw a wild safari-themed bar mitzvah for a client.

A four-day wedding in Paris where the ceremony was in a historic chateau and the host paid for guests to stay at Hotel Crillon
Norma Cohen Productions

The memorable occasion transpired at Spring Studios in downtown Manhattan and saw 400 guests be transported to the African plains: Details included mammoth replicas of wildlife such as giraffes and elephants, servers in safari themed attire, and entertainment dressed like giraffes. The event was one of several over-the-top parties Cohen’s arranged recently.

A four-day wedding in Paris where the ceremony was in a historic chateau and the host paid for guests to stay at Hotel Crillon, one of the city’s most luxurious properties, also ranks high in Cohen’s memory.

Then there’s a destination party in London that Cohen planned for a client who was turning 40. It as a six-day affair with dinners at swanky spots such as Cipriani, the Arts Club, and Cecconi’s at Soho House. The finale was Lancaster House, a mansion in St. James, where guests were entertained by cabaret dancers from the famed Ibiza club Lio Ibiza and feasted on prime rib and lamb chops and imbibed on Krug champagne.

“People today don’t want to host events,” Cohen says. “They want experiences that take you away to a different place and make you forget that the real world exists.”