Is the TikTok ban coming?

We have noticed some restrictions, but TikTok still remains the place to connect. But what is really going on behind the hotly debated #TikTokBan?

Currently, a “TikTok Ban” is on everyone’s lips, especially in the US. Montana recently became the first US state to talk about banning TikTok on personal devices. TikTok is suing Montana, arguing the ban violates the Constitution by limiting the company’s right to host and distribute user-created content. TikTok is asking the court for an injunction to block the ban, which, if granted, would allow the app to conduct business as usual in the state while the courts sort out the relevant issues. Additionally, five TikTok creators filed their own lawsuit against the state, arguing that the Montana ban violates the First Amendment.

Like the TikTok company itself, Kingfluencers is closely monitoring current events. While a ban is less likely to occur here in the DACH region, we’re exploring what it would mean.

Why is TikTok Being Banned?

The concerns driving TikTok bans are:

  • Accessibility of dangerous content
  • Personal data being transferred out of the EU
  • The Chinese government could access sensitive user data, like location info 
  • China could use it to spread misinfo

In January, EU Commissioner for International Market Thierry Breton expressed concerns about the easy accessibility of dangerous content on TikTok, as well as journalists being spied on, and personal data being transferred outside Europe. Breton spoke with TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew and emphasized the need to comply with EU legislation including privacy laws and the new EU Digital Services Act (DSA). The DSA, which will apply to major platforms on 1 September, is a set of sweeping rules that will require platforms to reduce harmful online content and combat online risks. “We will not hesitate to adopt the full scope of sanctions to protect our citizens if audits do not show full compliance,” Breton said.

Since TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, governments are concerned that may grant the Chinese government access to sensitive user data, like location information. The New York Times writes that these concerns are due to laws that allow the Chinese government to secretly demand data from Chinese companies and citizens for intelligence-gathering operations. TikTok has long denied these allegations. Governments are also worried that China could use TikTok’s content recommendations to spread misinformation. Chinese ownership seems to be the main issue, according to the New York Times. TikTok said recently that the Biden administration wants its Chinese ownership to sell the app or face a possible ban.

EU Commissioner for International Market Thierry

Where is TikTok Banned?

Numerous government bodies have recently banned the app from official devices, including the US federal government, Canada, the executive arm of the European Union, Australia, and the Parliaments of Britain and New Zealand. Again, these bans apply only to official government devices and have no impact on what private citizens choose to use on their own mobile devices.

India banned TikTok outright in June 2020, along with 58 other Chinese apps, to curb the perceived spread of Chinese influence in the country.

In late February, the Swiss Federal Chancellery told RSI that there are currently no plans to ban TikTok in Switzerland. The federal administration could ban the use of individual apps at any time, but at the moment such a ban is not intended for TikTok. Mauro Tuena, SVP national councilor and head of the security commission stated that the security of user data should always be the top priority, although a nationwide ban would go too far. Some elected officials believe a TikTok ban should be discussed if the platform repeatedly failed in protecting user data.

TikTok now has more than 150 million monthly active users in the US. With a total population of 332 million, that’s approaching half! Clearly, the app is popular with Americans, making a ban highly unpopular.

How is TikTok Responding?

​If EU governments were to begin debating a ban, we would expect TikTok to adjust guidelines voluntarily in order to remedy the concerns and allay the need for a ban.

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has fired four employees who illegally accessed the personal data of two journalists on the platform. The company has stated that it takes data security “incredibly seriously”. Regarding the EU ban on TikTok on official devices, a TikTok representative said: “We are disappointed with this decision, which we believe is wrong and based on fundamental misunderstandings. We have contacted the Commission to set the record straight and explain how we protect the data of the 125 million people in the EU who use TikTok every month.”

Yoeri Callebaut,

I do not believe that TikTok will be banned in Europe. European governments may apply pressure and they will come to an agreement in the end. Should TikTok be banned, there would be some eager replacements on the market very fast. While that would be exciting to see, I don’t think it will come to that point.

Yoeri Callebaut, CEO Kingfluencers

Impacts of a TikTok Ban

Brands value access to their target audiences as well as high engagement, and TikTok influencers deliver both. TikTok now has the highest engagement rates of any social media platform, 5.69% per post, compared to Instagram’s 0.47%. A TikTok ban would mean creators would lose the audiences and engagement they’ve spent time building. 

Additionally, TikTok emphasizes discovery, enabling posts from users with a small following to go viral. This makes the platform an excellent venue for new creators to achieve success. A TikTok ban would of course be detrimental for creators and brands alike, although other platforms, such as Meta, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat, could benefit as audiences shift.

How Can Brands & Influencers Mitigate Damage in this Unlikely Event?

There are a few things creators can do to mitigate the negative impact.

  • Diversify Your Online Presence

Work to build an audience on other social media platforms. You can upload your videos to YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and Snapchat’s Spotlight while continuing to make TikToks.

The content creator and food blogger Jey Cis (@cookingwithjey) also follows this strategy: “I generally try to spread myself across several platforms and have now also started a blog. Because in these fast-moving times, you never know what’s coming next. You should always have a plan B at the start or diversify.”

  • Develop Various Income Streams

You can monetize your audience by selling physical and digital products or services such as Cameo.

Again, the ban seems very unlikely, but these steps can benefit creators in any case. Brands can also benefit by partnering with influencers who have engaged audiences on multiple platforms

Jey Cis

If it [the TikTok ban] should happen, then a change is also a new chance to develop and grow. But of course, it would affect and worry me, because a lot of love and hard work was invested to create such an engaging account and community. Even if many out there still think that I “only make videos”.

Jey Cis, Content Creator

The Fact Remains: TikTok for Businesses Works

TikTok is still THE place for brands to reach and connect with Gen Z and, but also older generations. Working with dozens of leading TikTok-centric content creators, our expert team delivers and implements high-performing TikTok ad strategies or influencer campaigns. Developing and implementing a successful TikTok strategy will generate multiple tangible benefits, today and in the future.

Our success stories include:

Contact us to get started on TikTok ad strategies for your brand to shine.

Author: Megan Bozman, Owner @Boz Content Marketing