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TikTok is Banned? Explainer.

TikTok is banned?

Not yet, no, but it looks like this is a distinct possibility in the USA.  If it happens it will likely have a significant knock-on effect in other countries.

What’s happened so far?

Last week the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (which incidentally is the oldest continuous standing committee in the US House of Representatives, dating to 1795) voted 50-0 on legislation that would ban TikTok in its current form.  There is a provision in the bill that the parent company of TikTok, ByteDance, could divest its share to another company but if it did not or could not there would be a ban.

If it becomes law, then it would be possible for a President to identify and designate social media platforms owned or under the control of countries considered adversaries to the US as a threat to national security. TikTok (or any other app under this criteria) would then be banned from app stores and web hosting services.

What happens next?

The bill goes for a vote in the House of Representatives scheduled for Wednesday 13th March under something called ‘suspension of the rules’ which means it would need a two-thirds majority to pass. If it does pass, then it goes to the Senate and if it passes there to the President who can then sign or veto the bill.

What are the consequences?

Even if the bill becomes law, it doesn’t necessarily mean TikTok will be banned.  A US buyer may be found for the US parts of TikTok, they were in talks with Microsoft back in 2020 when the idea of a ban was posited by then President Trump.  However, selling off these assets may be very difficult.

The bill wouldn’t remove TikTok from phones, but it would prevent major app stores from listing it and maintaining it via updates.  It would wither on the vine.  US websites also would not be able to host TikTok.

What are the political consequences?

Both candidates for President have been inconsistent – former President Trump was for a ban and most recently has been against a ban. President Biden has said he would sign the bill but has been using TikTok for campaigning.

It could in theory be banned before the presidential election in November although given there will almost certainly be legal action against the bill it would likely be longer to be implemented.

Social media is not necessarily forever.

Despite the undoubted success that TikTok has had there have been numerous once successful then failed social media companies.  TikTok might be next, or it could move to a stronger position either under new ownership in the US or if the ban does not become law.

If you would be interested in using Fellows Social for social media services, you can find more information at fellowssocial.com.

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