Biden signs TikTok ban-or-sell bill into law

Despite the TikTok ban-or-sell bill being signed into law, it will be potentially challenged in court.
Despite the TikTok ban-or-sell bill being signed into law, it will be potentially challenged in court.
Christiana Vucea

President Joe Biden signed a bill that could lead to a nationwide ban on TikTok on April 24. This comes following years of discussion surrounding the possible banning of the app. The House of Representatives had passed the bill on April 20 and the Senate had done so on the 23. 

The Washington Post reported that the TikTok ban bill will require ByteDance, Tiktok’s Chinese parent company, to sell TikTok’s American division within nine months, with a possible extension of 180 days. If this is not achieved, the US will ban the app in American app stores, websites and any other places where TikTok can be accessed. This bill was introduced to counter the risk of ByteDance being leveraged by the Chinese government to access US user data that is stored on the app. 

 According to NPR, ByteDance says that TikTok has been used by former employees of the company to monitor Americans who were critical of the company but members of the Chinese government have not used the app in that way. However, a ByteDance executive did admit in a court filing that the company has granted the Chinese government a “superuser” credential to monitor Hong Kong protests in 2018, which is something the company denies. 

Lawmakers and intelligence officials believe that the app could be used to spy on Americans, promote pro-Chinese advertising and interfere in elections. Therefore, they believe that if ByteDance sells TikTok, it would promote United States national security.

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“I don’t know the intricacies  about why this might be causing security issues, so I understand about why this is on the table but I think that it’s taken up so much of the public eye and it’s becoming such a major point in platforms and campaigns that are going on right now… given that it is an election year, I think voters should be more informed about other issues that are affecting us right now like the environment [and] reproductive rights,” senior Advika Agarwal said. 

 If the company is unable to sell the app within the time allotted, TikTok will be taken off of app stores, which will limit users ability to update it, causing glitches overtime and eventually making the app unusable. 

“They’ll probably just become less popular and make less money. Even if [users] switch over to another app I don’t think it would help much because of the way TikTok is formatted and they might not have as much attention on social media apps,” senior Anya Precil said. 

The newly passed bill would impact the vast amount of people who use the platform. Specifically, content creators and people who advertise their businesses on the platform would feel the most significant effects, as they could start losing revenue if TikTok is removed. 

Finally, TikTok has an economic impact on the United States. According to a study by Oxford Economics, Tiktok has garnered $14.7 billion in revenue for small business owners, added $24.2 billion to US gross domestic product; and in addition, the study also found that TikTok supports at least 224,000 jobs across the country. 

Besides impacting people, the TikTok ban will impact the social media industry as a whole. If people cannot make use of TikTok, they will gravitate and start creating content on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. This will make other social media platforms more influential and powerful.

As for the public reaction to the potential ban of TikTok, many content creators have spoken out against the bill. On March 13, several TikTok supporters gathered outside the Capitol to protest against the TikTok ban bill, according to the Washington Post. Many of them were primarily arguing that TikTok is not just a big source of revenue for content creators, but that Representatives and Senators have failed to acknowledge that this bill will hurt small businesses as well.

“I’m just confused about why they’re spending so much energy on this TikTok ban when there are so many other issues at hand right now that are so much more urgent and they’re affecting our rights and our health and security right now,” Agarwal said.


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