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Is the US going to ban TikTok and what that means for creators

Creators are worried about the fate of TikTok – especially in the US.  In recent months, with the legislative threats to ban TikTok from government devices(or even altogether in the U.S.), many creators are worried about the fate of the app, as they have invested time and resources to grow followings and secure brand deals specific to TikTok.

Many creators rightfully feel that removing TikTok from the social media sphere would be like moving backwards; almost like bringing our internet, or at least this format of the internet, back to pre-Covid. It would also mean removing a culturally significant platform for an entire generation. I even saw comments on one of my own videos that spurred a discussion on people under age 21 having Instagram and only paying attention to TikTok. 

So, what exactly is this ban? Essentially, federal legislation in the States is prohibiting government employees from using TikTok on government-owned devices and computer network. This month, New Jersey and Ohio will join 12 other states in banning the use of the popular video app on government-owned and managed devices. 

Arguably the issue at the centre of this ban interest is the question of data privacy. For instance, ByteDance, TikTok’s China-based parent company, is using the app to monitor specific U.S. citizens’ locations. And a variety of methods are used to collect user data, including scanning hard drives and geolocating devices every hour, accessing calendars, and collecting contact lists, according to Wired. It is unclear what information a foreign government could obtain about users, such as location and private messages. 

To gauge the concern of a potential general ban from a creator and agency perspective, Elma Beganovich, co-CEO of digital marketing agency Amra and Elma, has 2 million followers on TikTok, has said ““If the government got rid of TikTok all together, of course brands could no longer work with creators and influencers, mostly Gen Z, and reach that target group that easily.”

“Any interruption or ban on TikTok would invariably affect thousands of creators making a full or supplemental living on the platform,” said Ryan Detert, CEO of marketing agency Influential. He added that many small businesses that use TikTok got started during the pandemic and were able to grow their brands on the platform. “And by proxy, technologies and agencies would be adversely affected with upwards of 50% of spends on creator campaigns happening on TikTok,” he said.

A TikTok ban would disrupt the way smaller brands and content creators use the app on a daily basis. Direct-to-consumer period care brand Viv, skin care brand Truly, Crumbl Cookies and Chosen Foods are all brands that not only create content for the platform, but they have also built their own organic communities as a result. Throughout 2022, marketers turned to TikTok to focus more on advertising to Gen Z because they spend more time on the app than on Instagram and Facebook.

But should we, and Americans specifically, be gauging out alternatives just in case? Well, most social media marketers and experts recommend creators hedge themselves and build up their community on other platforms just in case the app is banned. A big worry from a creator standpoint is that while creators could take brand deals to other apps, content formats would likely have to be different and the rates they are paid could decline if there are fewer views on other platforms compared to TikTok. Having said that, the worry isn’t exponential seeing that brands need eyes so wherever the public goes, the brands will follow wherever the creators are. 

Nevertheless, the fear of having to rebuild a community and have hours of hard work and connection gone overnight can feel like every creator’s nightmare coming true.

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