TikTok has filed a bankrolling user lawsuit against Montana’s ban

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TikTok funds Montana ban

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Credit: Solen Feyissa

TikTok is funding the user-filed lawsuit challenging the social media app’s Montana ban. Here’s the latest.

A report from The New York Times confirms that five YouTubers on the platform who have sued the state over the ban are using TikTok to fund their legal costs. TikTok declined to answer direct questions about whether or not it funded that lawsuit, as it funded the 2020 copyright lawsuit against former President Donald Trump’s ban.

“Many YouTubers, both privately and publicly, have raised significant concerns about the potential impact of the Montana Act on their livelihoods,” said Ms. Jodi Seth, a spokeswoman for TikTok. “We support our creators in the fight for their constitutional rights.”

The Montana ban on TikTok is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2024. It also envisages heavy penalties for making the app available to Montananers to download, including a $10,000-a-day fine that could put Apple and Google in a tight spot. The Montana TikTok ban was enforced over concerns that TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, might share American data with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government in China.

The New York Times report says some of the creators involved in the “grassroots” lawsuit in Montana have declined to talk about how they were implicated in the lawsuit. But at least two of them spoke about being contacted by lawyers working for TikTok. That includes Heather DiRocco, a 36-year-old mom with 200,000 followers on TikTok. DiRocco encouraged others to use the hashtag #MTlovesTikTok on video and to call the Montana governor’s office to express their frustration at the ban.

TikTok’s attorneys reached out to her in April 2023 to see if she would be interested in appearing as a plaintiff in the base lawsuit. DiRocco said she was intrigued and decided to enter after learning she wouldn’t have to pay the law firm running the contest out of her own pocket.

The law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, which represents grassroots TikTok users, is the same one that represented users in the lawsuit challenging Trump’s 2020 ban. The company contacted many YouTubers on TikTok to let them know they would help file and pay for any lawsuits against the Montana ban.