Student News Site of Hinsdale South High School

Stinger

Student News Site of Hinsdale South High School

Stinger

Student News Site of Hinsdale South High School

Stinger

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Jeff Jackson: Congressman Turned Tiktoker?

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Sitting in his kitchen, Democratic Congressman Jeff Jackson speaks to his audience of millions about open, honest United States politics. In his videos on the popular social media app, TikTok, he talks about the week’s recent news, such as the so-called Chinese spy balloon, and even his own personal finances, all in the name of transparency. As a result of his earnest addresses informing the public, he’s gained two and a half million followers on the platform. 

Jackson built his political career off his relatively young TikTok-using supporters, becoming a North Carolina Congressional Representative in 2023. However, he lost many of these followers practically overnight by voting yes on the recent bill to ban TikTok. 

The bill was written due to concerns that China was using TikTok to steal information from American users, due to the influence Chinese national security laws have on TikTok’s algorithm. Many of the younger Americans that use TikTok the most protested this, saying that banning TikTok would take away a lot of peoples’ freedom of speech, since TikTok is the most popular social media platform that is not American-owned in the United States. They also point out that American social media apps like Meta have also been accused of stealing data from users. Despite this backlash, the TikTok bill passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 352-65 on March 12th, but of all the votes to ban TikTok, Jackson’s was perhaps the least expected. 

On Wednesday, March 12th, Jackson cross-posted a video on TikTok talking about the bill, in which he was seemingly against the app being banned. In the video, he said that he “[doesn’t] think TikTok is going to be banned”, but that it was more likely to be sold to an American company and continue operating. He also acknowledged that there were Congress members who were “deeply uninformed” about TikTok since they didn’t even use the app, but as he himself did use it, he thought the problem could be solved. Furthermore, in an interview with The Washington Post, Jackson said that he would only vote to ban TikTok “as a last resort”.

Well, that last resort seems to have come to pass, and his TikTok followers are not happy about it. After the vote, the comments of his Wednesday video were flooded with thousands of people asking, “How much was it?,” implying that Jackson was paid off to vote the way he did. Still others called him just another “crooked politician,” no longer believing that Jackson was the honest representative that he claimed to be. 

In a more recent video, Jackson apologized for mishandling the situation and explained his reasoning for voting the way he did. He said that he had received disturbing inside information about how TikTok was taking data from its users and handing it to the Chinese government, stating that these major concerns were the reason that he voted yes. 

However, many users were not satisfied with this explanation. Jackson’s statement that he “appeared” to have voted against the app instead of openly saying it did not help his case. Stitches of his video point out that ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, is unlikely to sell the app to an American company as Jackson had claimed, since only about 10% of its users are American. 

Whether or not TikTok is actually banned remains to be seen, as the bill to ban it has not yet passed the Senate. Jeff Jackson’s fate is not yet sealed either, as some voters have stated in the comments of his videos, which he continues to post, that no politician makes the right vote every single time. He continues to be one of the most followed US representatives on TikTok, though his actions are certainly more scrutinized than ever. 

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