Progressive activists are warning Democrats that banning the popular social media app TikTok will come with political consequences for multiple election cycles.
The Chinese-owned social media app is overwhelmingly used by people aged 18-29, a key demographic that is increasingly shifting election outcomes. In the 2022 midterm election cycle, an estimated 27 percent of young people turned out to vote, marking the second highest youth election turnout in nearly three decades.
Eighteen to 29-year-olds overwhelmingly support Democrats. According to the Edison Research National Election Poll, young voters prefer Democrats by a 28-point margin, and they are the only age group where a strong majority support Democrats.
Young activists are warning the White House that passing legislation banning TikTok will result in a loss of support from young voters.
“If they went ahead with banning TikTok, it would feel like a slap in the face to a lot of young Americans,” Aidan Kohn-Murphy, a 19-year-old Harvard freshman who founded Gen Z For Change, told NBC News. “Democrats don’t understand the political consequences this would have.”
Gen Z For Change is a political nonprofit activist group that exists to leverage the power of social media to advance progressive goals. The organization includes 500 creators with a combined 500 million followers across multiple platforms, Kohn-Murphy told NBC.
“I’m not defending TikTok as a company, I’m defending my entire generation,” he said.
Democrats across the U.S. are worried that if federal officials proceed with a ban on Gen Z’s favorite social media platform, it would depress voter turnout indefinitely.
“Banning TikTok? I mean, are you trying to engage young voters or not? What are we doing here?” Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., a former middle school principal and member of the progressive “squad,” told NBC in an interview. “They will absolutely stay at home. There’s no question about that.”
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo recently warned in an interview with Bloomberg that if Biden signs legislation banning TikTok, “The politician in me thinks you’re gonna literally lose every voter under 35, forever.”