TikTokkers are calling Rep. Jeff Jackson a hypocrite

Until relatively recently, Rep. Jeff Jackson, a freshman Democratic congressman from North Carolina, had more than 2.5 million followers on TikTok. Jackson’s follower count dropped by over 100,000 virtually overnight — as did his esteem among some of TikTok’s young users — after he voted to ban the app.

The bill passed with 352 votes, but to the legions of TikTokers who called their representatives to urge them not to ban the app, Jackson’s vote feels like a unique betrayal.

On Wednesday, Jackson posted a video on X laying out the rationale for his vote. “I don’t think TikTok is going to be banned,” he began. If the bill passes in the Senate, Jackson said in the video, he thinks the likeliest scenario is that “TikTok will be sold for billions of dollars and will continue to operate.” His opposition, he continued, is not with TikTok itself but with China’s national security laws and the sway the Chinese government has over TikTok’s algorithms — and, potentially, over American politics. “We got a big example of how that power could be used last week, and it wasn’t subtle,” Jackson said, referring to the pop-up notification TikTok served users that warned Congress is “planning a total ban of TikTok.”

Jackson also acknowledged TikTok users’ concern that Congress is attempting to pass legislation that could potentially ban an app they don’t even understand. “I know a lot of you have seen some members of Congress be deeply uninformed about this because they don’t use TikTok and they don’t care,” he said. “But I do use it, and I think we can solve this problem and keep marching on.”

TikTok users, meanwhile, weren’t happy with Jackson’s explanation. The comments section of his most recent video, posted on Monday, is full of people calling him a hypocrite. Some of the comments suggest that Jackson originally cross-posted his post-vote explanation video on TikTok, and then deleted it after a wave of backlash.

“WITHOUT TIKTOK YOUR NOTHING!!! @Jeff Jackson,” said one irate viewer. “SELLLOUUUUTTTTTTTTTTT,” said another. Jackson’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In interviews with Roll Call and The Washington Post, he’s touted TikTok as a way of educating constituents about the ins and outs of the legislative process. The app, he’s said, is good for transparency. Since the White House has forbidden federal employees, including members of Congress, from having TikTok on their government-issued phones, Jackson has the app installed on a separate personal device.

Last April, Jackson told The Washington Post he’d vote for legislation banning TikTok “as a last resort,” though he’d prefer that ByteDance sell the app so he — and his constituents — can keep using it.

For now, Jackson can still post, although his posts are being brigaded with comments like “🍅 🍅 🍅 🍅 🍅 🍅 🍅 🍅 🍅.” And despite his recent drop in followers, he remains the most-followed member of Congress on TikTok.

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By asm3a