Tillis among those asking for total Congressional ban on TikTok

Image from C-SPAN.org
  • Unalarmed by the latest call to ban TikTok in Congress, Jackson posted another video to the app Monday, saying that “most of the angry voices in Congress are faking it” in order to get media coverage.

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-TX, led a group of Republican senators and representatives Monday to call on all members of Congress to not only voluntarily stop using the social media platform TikTok, but also ban them from using it entirely.

A Washington D.C. watchdog group recently called out North Carolina Congressmen Jeff Jackson and Wiley Nickel’s use of TikTok and posting campaign and official content, which they say led to abusing official resources and violating House ethics rules.

Tillis and Crenshaw, along with 15 other Republican members of Congress, wrote a letter to leaders of the Senate Rules Committee and the Committee on House Administration to call on members “to lead by example” by ceasing the use of the China-based app and urged that House and Senate rules be amended to ban members of Congress from continued use of TikTok. 

The letter states that revelations from a recent House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing that heard testimony and comments from TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew made it clear to the public that TikTok is mining data and potentially spying on American citizens, and action needed to be taken.

Warnings about the popular app go back to March 2020, according to the letter, when the Senate’s Chief Information Officer issued a Cybersecurity advisory warning on the data vulnerabilities of TikTok, and the House Chief Administrative Officer warned members of Congress almost a year ago that TikTok is of high-risk to users.

“It is troublesome that some members continue to disregard these clear warnings and are even encouraging their constituents to use TikTok to interface with their elected representatives – especially since some of these users are minors,” the letter states. “We feel this situation warrants further action to protect the privacy of both sensitive congressional information and the personal information of our constituents. To that end, we urge you to enact a change to the Senate and House rules to ban members of Congress from using TikTok for official use.”

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) on Jackson and Nickel for using the social media platform owned by Chinese company ByteDance Ltd.

Unalarmed by the latest call to ban TikTok in Congress, Jackson posted another video to the app Monday, saying that “most of the angry voices in Congress are faking it” in order to get media coverage.

Tillis previously called out Jackson to stop using TikTok, saying his use of the app is “beyond reckless.

FACT said that despite all of the previous warnings, Nickel and Jackson continued to use the platform for political purposes, with links to their campaign websites in their biography section. They say Nickel also uses the account for official House purposes, but Jackson went one step further by making posts using official House resources.

Jackson, whom the Washington Free Beacon has called “the most TikTok-famous House member,” has 1.6 million followers on an account that appears to have been created in April 2021. It shows Jackson’s time as a North Carolina state senator, campaigning for his current position as the representative for NC-14, and currently as a congressman. 

FACT says that Jackson’s use of the TikTok account for campaigning, along with showing and discussing the inner workings of Congress, puts him in direct violation of House ethics rules that prohibit members of Congress from using official resources for campaign purposes.

The official complaint states that his accounts contained numerous campaign and political posts. Within several of these posts, Jackson used official government resources, namely photographs of the House floor and the Armed Services Committee. 

Second, the content within Jackson’s posts (photographs of the House floor and Armed Services Committee) also violates official resources and House ethics rules.

Nickel’s videos range from interviews with C-Span in February, which is also his last post, and MSNBC after he won the election for NC-13 in November, to campaign videos.

The official complaint for Nickel says that his posts include campaign advertisements and videos from campaign events, along with video recorded from inside the Capitol and an interview where Nickel is wearing his official Member pin. 

The complaint also says the content of the posts that contain video recorded in the Capitol is a violation of the ethics rules and an abuse of official resources.