Biden has signed a TikTok ban into law. Here’s what this really means for app users and influencers

India’s ban could serve as precedent for the US, after President Joe Biden signed the so-called TikTok ban into law

Kelly Rissman,The Associated Press
Thursday 25 April 2024 11:11 BST
Related video: Biden ignores questions on TikTok ban as he signs bill into law

President Joe Biden has just signed the so-called TikTok ban into law, meaning that the popular social media app’s parent company must now sell the app or face a ban across the US,

The controversial ban of the app was passed by Congress this week, sending the measure to Mr Biden’s desk, who signed the legislation into law on Wednesday.

Despite fears that the Chinese-owned app will suddenly vanish from users’ phones, that is far from the reality of what will likely happen.

India’s ban of the app four years ago could serve as a blueprint for what will now happen in the US.

Here is what we know about the TikTok ban:

When does the ban go into effect?

At the earliest, it would probably take a year before TikTok would be banned.

Under the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, has nine months to sell the social media app, tacking on an additional three more if a sale is under way.

But if this doesn’t happen, TikTok will be banned from US app stores.

Court challenges could cause a stray from the original timeline, adding more time before the app is banned.

A man holds a ‘Free TikTok’ sign in front of the courthouse where the hush money trial is underway ahead of the House’s passage of the bill
A man holds a ‘Free TikTok’ sign in front of the courthouse where the hush money trial is underway ahead of the House’s passage of the bill (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

What impact will a ban have on Tiktok users?

The app enjoys 170 million Americans users. Despite fears that the app will suddenly disappear from users’ phones if the ban takes effect, this isn’t the case.

In reality, the app would be no longer accessible in the app stores in the US, meaning it would become more difficult to download the app or receive updates.

So, while users could continue to use it in the short term, it eventually may become incompatible with their phone’s software.

TikTok users could probably circumvent the app’s removal from US app stores and access the app through other means, like by using a virtual private network (VPN) or using a foreign SIM card.

“The TikTok bill relies heavily on the control that Apple and Google maintain over their smartphone platforms because the bill’s primary mechanism is to direct Apple and Google to stop allowing the TikTok app on their respective app stores,” Dean Ball, a research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, told The Associated Press.

President Biden giving remarks after signing the legislation on Wednesday
President Biden giving remarks after signing the legislation on Wednesday (Getty Images)

“Such a mechanism might be much less effective in the world envisioned by many advocates of antitrust and aggressive regulation against the large tech firms.”

If India serves as precedent, some scrollers will simply adjust to the ban and switch their attention to other apps. For example, Rajib Dutta told The Associated Press that he moved to Instagram after the app was outlawed. “It wasn’t really a big deal,” he said.

What impact will it have on TikTok stars making money on the app?

Creators and small business owners have warned that a ban of the app could impact their livelihoods. Over seven million US businesses sell products on the platform, The Washington Post reported.

The Independent has contacted TikTok for information about how many creators are currently on the app. Sprout Social said that there were more than 100,000 US-based influencers on TikTok as of November 2023.

Alex Pearlman, a TikTok creator, told The Associated Press that the platform had changed his life. He said he had put his dreams of becoming a comedian on hold while he worked a nine-to-five job in an office. But then TikTok gave him a chance to return to the stage from the comfort of his phone. Mr Pearlman has since quit his office gig and booked his first nationwide tour.

Congress TikTok
Congress TikTok (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“I don’t take a day for granted on this app, because it’s been so shocking,” the 39-year-old said. “In reality, TikTok has been the driver of American social media for the last four years. Something will step into that place if TikTok vanishes tomorrow. Whether or not that will be better or worse, Congress has no way of knowing.”

It’s unclear if TikTok influencers, like Mr Pearlman, will be able to entirely pivot their content — and their newfound earnings — to a different social media platform.

India-based user Winnie Sangma told The Associated Press about his experience following the ban in his country. He said that he earned some money from posting on TikTok. He also relocated his setup to Instagram, where he now has 15,000 followers.

“I have built up followers on Instagram too, and I am making money from it,” he said. “But the experience isn’t like how it used to be on TikTok.”

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in