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The United States TikTok Ban: What We Know

In April 2024, President Biden signed a law that would force TikTok to change hands or be banned in the United States. While enemies of the app are rejoicing and many users are panicking, it's important to know that this isn’t nearly as cut and dry as you may think.

Read on to discover some of the dirty truths about TikTok and whether or not it will still be able to be used after the ban.

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Why Does the US Government Want to Ban TikTok?

Let’s start with the obvious. The US Government wants to ban the TikTok app because they believe that the Chinese government has influence over it and could use it to spy on American citizens. This is concerning because over half of Americans have accounts on TikTok, and many Gen Zers state that it is how they get their news each day.

While we understand the concern it is important to know that TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a private Chinese company which is headquartered in Beijing. But more surprising is the fact that it was incorporated in the Cayman Islands, a sneaky trick many companies use to avoid taxes. Although the company is Chinese, they are backed by several private companies from other countries.

Currently, TikTok is publicly traded, and it is owned 60% by companies outside of China, 20% by its founders and Chinese investors, and 20% by its employees. While this means that 40% of the holdings are likely in Chinese hands, since the majority of shares are held by individuals in other countries, the current bill signed by Biden is far reaching, and proves how little he actually knows about the music app.

Related: What is the RESTRICT Act?

Can the Government Ban TikTok?

Biden has already signed the bill, which has led to many of the users of the app panicking thinking it will be closed tomorrow. Like many things in the US, this is not the case and there is no reason to panic.

First and foremost, it's important to know that the “ban” was not truly a ban but a demand for ByteDance to sell Chinese-held shares. While they might do that, know that corporations know all the legal loopholes, and I'm sure they can make employees move or transfer shares to shell companies in order to avoid the ban—basically, there WILL be a way around it, and users shouldn’t worry.

In the meantime, Biden has landed himself in a whole heap of trouble. ByteDance has filed a countersuit, saying that the law is against the First Amendment of free speech in the United States, and, well, they have a point.

Although a higher court, likely the supreme court will have the final say, this buys TikTok a whole lot of time to get their ducks in a row, whether or not that means moving headquarters and employees, or creating shell companies on other Caribbean Islands.

We do have to mention, however, that the Chinese Government does have some say in the Beijing-based company moving its headquarters. The communist government has control over company profits through a deal that was signed during the company's inception. But we believe, in this case, that the Chinese government will be okay with the movement of the headquarters to preserve the future of the app.

We strongly suspect that if they are forced to sell, this will be a dividing point for the company. It will split into two, a non-Chinese owned branch, and a Chinese branch, and the one owned by the non-Chinese individuals will be marketed to Americans.

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What Happens if the Ban Goes Through?

While it is possible that the ban goes through, it will only make it harder for individuals to use the app, not impossible.

Unfortunately, Apple and Google will have to remove the app from their store, but anyone with an Android or jailbroken iPhone will still be able to download the app from other sources. Plus, it will still be usable online. While the average user will have to download a trusty VPN, there are so many available that we doubt this will be an issue if it does come down to that.

Either way, we will cross that bridge when it arrives.

Related: Is Meta’s Decentralized Twitter the Real Deal?

Is TikTok Bad?

Honestly, TikTok isn’t great. But there are other social media platforms that are much worse. While TikTok is partially Chinese-owned and is subject to some regulations of the Chinese Government, we believe that this is truly just the tip of the iceberg. Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram is doing the exact same thing as far as data mining, tracking users, and controlling the algorithm goes.

Therefore, we think if the ban goes through for TikTok on data privacy reasons, the Instagram and Facebook need to be banned too. Then the government can ban Twitter/X as well, and Americans can have zero social media while still being tracked online.

Even though this sounds crazy, it isn’t far from the truth. Social media thrives on data mining, no matter what country is behind the app. While the US government can cite national security issues for TikTok, they are totally sweeping under the rug all the international owners of the Meta Platform.

Plus, there is that pesky little detail that the US government is already spying on American citizens, and they share this data with up to nine other countries. This means the Prime Minister of Germany knows probably just as much about your internet history as TikTok does—But this is a topic for another time.

Truly, you should never put any information on social media that you don’t want foreign or US governments to know because these governments have their hands in it all. While we can’t say for sure that TikTok won’t get banned in the US, we think it’s a long shot, and there will definitely still be ways to use it afterward.  So, if you are a TikTok influencer, there is no reason to panic just yet.

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Tiktok ban | Libertarian | Free speech | Social media apps | Data mining | Tiktok

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