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US House passes bill that could lead to the ban of TikTok

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US House passes bill that could lead to the ban of TikTok


The US House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday that could lead to the US ban of TikTok if owner ByteDance doesn’t divest from the app. 

ByteDance is a China-based company that lawmakers believe is beholden to the Chinese government. Scrutiny of the app has come from its close ties to China and the access it has to millions of American users’ data. In response to this criticism, TikTok’s CEO Shou Chew posted a video on X (formerly Twitter) thanking the TikTok community, stating that the company is committed to keeping user data safe. “Over the last few years, we have invested to keep your data safe and our platform free from outside manipulation,” Chew said.  “We have committed to that and continue to do so.” 

Despite the app’s assurances that it has solid measures in place when it comes to data protection, lawmakers are not satisfied. The bill is now in the hands of the Senate, leaving the future of the app in the US uncertain. President Joe Biden has said that he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk. 

Since its emergence in 2016, TikTok has amassed around 170 million Americans. In Australia, the app boasts 8.5 million users active every month. The popularity of the social media app is undisputed and a US ban will likely have a ripple effect across the globe.

The short-form video app’s core demographic is the Gen Z cohort, with recent Forrester data showing that 68 percent of US online Gen Z youths (ages 12–17) use it weekly, which is more than any other social media platform (including YouTube, at 66 percent). 

Meta versus TikTok

In a blog post, Forrester VP and research director, Mike Proulx states that TikTok’s loss is certainly Meta’s gain. “Despite increased antitrust measures in Congress, a ban on TikTok will hand an effective monopoly to Meta’s Reels,” Proulx said. “Absent of TikTok, users will flock to Reels, period — leaving just YouTube Shorts as its sole competitor. That means Meta is the likely beneficiary of TikTok’s ad revenue in a TikTok-less world, as well.”

Whether this is a cause for concern or not, appears to depend on the demographic in question. Forrester data suggests that the older and more conservative the demographic, the likelier they are to support a forced sale of TikTok. This demographic would also be less likely to use the app and therefore would be largely unaffected.

While avid users of the app would be devastated if a ban were to be put in place, the effect on businesses using the app cannot be overstated. Forrester data shows that 67 percent of US B2C marketing decision-makers plan to increase investment in TikTok this year, while only seven percent indicated their organisation plans to decrease investment. A TikTok ban will mean these decision-makers will be forced to invest in Meta instead, therefore creating an effective monopoly.

Speaking to CNN, Paul Barrett, deputy director of New York University’s Stern Centre for Business and Human Rights, said that banning TikTok in the US would be a strike against freedom of speech. “A broad U.S. ban would inhibit Americans from using TikTok to express themselves — an outcome that would limit free speech and make no one happy,” Barrett said.

The result of a US ban would likely have a flow-on effect in Australia. Whether that’s through limited reach for ad campaigns or a substantial decrease in entertainment from US content creators. While TikTok is unlikely to disappear from US phones anytime soon, content creators and businesses would be remiss not to keep a careful eye on the upcoming proceedings. 

Image attributed to Solen Feyissa on Unsplash. 


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January Jones

January Jones is a freelance writer.

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