TikTok Ban Survival Guide: Redemption Strategies for Media Companies

May 10, 2024
By
Jen McKinnon

Ready to roll with the punches? Let’s dive into the chaos of a potential TikTok ban in the US and break down not just how to survive but thrive. Read on for the lowdown on the situation as it stands and actionable strategies for media companies to ride the waves of change.

TL;DR - What’s happened?

What’s the fuss? Here’s a no-BS overview of the TikTok turmoil and why you need to stay sharp and prepped for a world without TikTok.

On April 24th 2024, the U.S. government went rogue and fast-tracked a bill to kick TikTok to the curb in six months unless it gets sold to U.S. bosses. Why? Uncle Sam’s got trust issues with TikTok holding onto American data—even though it’s all kept stateside. The stakes? A major upheaval in how digital content plays out, affecting everyone from meme lords to big-shot media moguls. Over 150 million folks and 5 million businesses in the U.S. are about to feel this sting.

What’s This Ban Really About?

The latest hammer drop from Congress—the so-called "TikTok Ban Bill," or HR 7521—sees the US government throwing down the gauntlet to keep foreign fingers off their digital pulse, slamming the door on apps that have their strings pulled from abroad. Translation: the US doesn't like China having a backdoor to American TikTok data, so TikTok either sells itself to a US company or faces an outright ban. Bottom line, this could mean lights out on TikTok for American users. 

But here’s the kicker—it’s not just about data privacy.  It’s about keeping digital propaganda in check, too. The government is eyeballing ByteDance's control over TikTok's algorithm, fearing it could cause political disruption by steering users toward anti-American or pro-Chinese content.

Despite some lawmakers throwing shade at the Bill for being rushed and murky, the House rubber-stamped it, blasting it through with a two-thirds majority—something you don't see every day. Its lightning speed stalled when it got to the Senate, as they planned to actually take their time reviewing the language, and clear up a few questions. So House Republicans said, “nah we aren’t waiting for that”, and snuck the Bill within a larger Foreign Aid Bill that was pushed through the Senate quick snap. President Biden was waiting with pen in hand, and signed it into law as soon as it hit his desk. 

Of course, there's been pushback—this Bill's stirring up more drama than a season finale! Loud voices like Democrat Rep, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Republican, Marjorie Taylor Greene, are sounding alarms about what this could mean for future tech takedowns. Ocasio-Cortez lit up Twitter with a video calling out the Bill for its breakneck speed and murky explanations; while Taylor Greene, who also voted against the Bill, pointed out that this sets a precedent for Congress to force the sale of other companies in the name of "protecting Americans' data." Talk about a Pandora's box! You crack this open, and who knows what other apps or websites could get caught in the crossfire—it could turn into a tech witch hunt.

Large content creators are beside themselves with the Bill’s progression. So much so, that some have penned an open letter to President Biden begging him to save the platform that keeps their careers and communities alive.

TikTok's CEO, Shou Zi Chew, isn't mincing words either. He's adamant that TikTok has always kept American user data safe, hosting it entirely on U.S. soil. He claims that banning the app will cost over 300,000 American jobs and muzzle free expression, casting aspersions that this whole deal is a power play to boost US-based social media companies at TikTok's expense.

So, that's the lay of the land—governmental chaos, corporate power plays, and the potential end of an era for TikTok in the US—but what can you do to protect yourself over the next nine months?

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