TikTok Ban: Implications for Users and Social Media's Future

,- One thing is certain among the flurry of stories regarding TikTok's uncertain future in the US: the popular video-sharing site won't disappear over night, nor will its users find themselves in legal hot water for continuing to consume its material. Even if a bill to restrict TikTok has been approved by Congress and is awaiting President Biden's signature, there are many obstacles and doubts on the way to a possible ban.

TikTok has been the target of years-long criticism and attempts at outlawing, most notably by former President Donald Trump. The destiny of the Chinese-owned app now hangs in the balance thanks to the latest move, which gives parent company ByteDance a nine-month grace period to unload its U.S. operations—which may be extended by three more months if talks are ongoing. Sufficient noncompliance would result in a TikTok suspension.

For the hordes of TikTok users or the parents of ardent users, what does this legislative move entail, though? Let us break out and address a few important questions.

When will the ban become operative?

Though talks have extended the timeframe to nine months, the original plan called for ByteDance to sell its U.S. division in six months. Furthermore, a further three months are given to complete the transaction if talks are still going on during this time. As so, a TikTok ban would not happen for at least a year. But with possible legal obstacles in the works, this timescale might go much longer, maybe into years. TikTok has not challenged federal legislation aiming at its ban, despite earlier legal triumphs.


TikTok is used by more than 170 million Americans, so even in the case of a ban, the app might remain on their phones. It would, however, become unavailable for new downloads when it disappeared from the app stores of Apple and Google. The app would eventually become out-of-date and provide security problems if it were not available on approved app stores.


Teens with a knack for negotiating social media and parental controls could try to get around the government's prohibition. Methods could be using a virtual private network (VPN) to hide one's location, getting access to other app stores, or even using foreign SIM cards. Still unknown is how effective these techniques are, though. Users might also swarm to other sites like YouTube or Instagram's Reels, which are rife with TikTok-style material. These sites have notably added comparable functionality in an attempt to draw in TikTok's user base.

Mercatus Centre research fellow Dean Ball emphasises how the TikTok bill depends on Apple and Google's control over their app marketplaces. Still to be seen, though, is how well this approach works at a time of increased scrutiny of internet behemoths.

Essentially, even if the future of TikTok in the United States is in jeopardy, its hordes of users can find comfort in the abundance of options that are accessible, guaranteeing that the spirit of TikTok endures independent of governmental actions.

(lenny farah/newsline paper)

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