Republican Senator touts death threat voicemail from giggling caller over TikTok ban as evidence of danger of “Communist-Chinese aligned company”

Sen. Thom Tillis

Senator touts death threat from giggling TikToker as evidence of ‘Communist-Chinese’ brainwashing

'The Communist-Chinese aligned company is proving just how dangerous their current ownership is.'


Mikael Thalen


Posted on Mar 21, 2024

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) posted a voicemail to X on Thursday containing an alleged death threat over his support for legislation that could ban TikTok.

The audio message, which sounds to come from a giggling, young girl, led the senator to suggest that the caller had essentially been brainwashed by a TikTok “misinformation campaign.”

“TikTok’s misinformation campaign is pushing people to call their members of Congress, and callers like this who communicate threats against elected officials could be committing a federal crime,” Tillis wrote. “The Communist-Chinese aligned company is proving just how dangerous their current ownership is. Great work, TikTok.”

On the voicemail, the young caller says through laughter that she plans to “find” Tillis and “shoot” him if the popular app is banned.

“That’s people’s jobs and that’s my only entertainment. And, people make money off there too, you know,” the caller said. “I’m trying to get rich like that. Anyways, I’ll shoot you, and find you, and cut you into pieces. Bye!”

Ahead of a vote on the ban bill earlier this month in the House, TikTok began running an app-wide advertising campaign calling on users to contact Congress to express their opposition.

That bill, dubbed the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Acts, could ban app stores and web hosting services from hosting TikTok unless the app’s parent company, ByteDance, agrees to divest.

Supporters of the bill cite national security concerns over what ByteDance, a China-based company, does with user data. But those “national security concerns” are “purely hypothetical,” said intelligence agency leaders, according to a report from The Intercept.

Some posters on X appeared to agree with Tillis that TikTok was to blame for the death threat.

“TikTok @tiktok_us owned by the Communist Party of China shocked the United States again!” posted @__Inty__. “They called on young Americans to call Congress and threaten senators! Say: ‘If you support the TikTok bill, I will shoot you!’”

“[T]his is just a taste of the depth of penetration China has achieved in our culture,” posted @RobertJThomas1.

But other people doubted that the call, while clearly inappropriate, was actually a credible threat.

“That’s actually hilarious 😂😂 it’s not a legal threat or a federal crime unless you take it as a credible threat…” posted @DetroitShowtyme. “You can’t feel threatened by this, right 🙄Are you serious? What else do you have to focus on Senator? Go do it 🥱”

Meanwhile, TikTok distanced themselves from the death threat while disputing the idea that opposing a ban meant they were aligned with the caller.

“Threats like this are unacceptable and we condemn this in the strongest possible terms,” @TikTokPolicy posted. “Clearly, there are millions of Americans who want to speak out against the ban bill that would trample Americans’ constitutional rights of free expression, but we must all do so in a respectful, civil manner.”

While TikTok’s future in the U.S. is unclear, President Joe Biden has said that he would sign the proposed legislation if it makes it to his desk.

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*First Published: Mar 21, 2024, 11:32 am CDT