The TikTok Ban and Implications for Creators

by | 27 Mar 2024

Written by Hoozu CEO, Natalie Giddings.

TikTok has emerged as a cultural phenomenon, captivating creators and communities worldwide with its unique blend of entertainment, creativity, and community engagement. The platform’s appeal lies in its ability to offer a space where individuals can express themselves authentically, connect with like-minded peers, and explore a diverse array of content. The unique algorithm enables content discovery, unmatched by other social media platforms. 

TikTok boasts a diverse tapestry of Creators with an array of genre-niches. From artists to comedians, home organisers to DIYERs, foodies to actors, teachers to advocates. And my current favourite; florists. 

The platform offers unparalleled opportunities for creative expression and innovation, allowing creators to experiment with formats and styles. Not to mention providing 51% of Gen-Z users with a search tool they prefer over the likes of Google (HerCampus Study), due to its digestible video format and independent sources.

But all of this creative and informative freedom faces potential muzzling as US congress discusses a potential ban of the app throughout the country. The ban poses significant implications for creators, impacting their ability to reach audiences, earn income, and express themselves creatively.

As the debate over its ban unfolds, it’s crucial to understand why TikTok holds such significance for creators and communities alike.

What is the “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act” & How Does it impact the Influencer Industry?

The recent bill proposed in the USA aims to ban TikTok, barring US websites from hosting the platform due to national security concerns.  You can read a strong explanation of the TikTok Ban situation here. (Business Insider). 

It’s important to note if the Act is signed into law, it won’t outright ‘ban’ TikTok in the United States. It would instead force TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell its U.S. operations to a non-Chinese owner. Indeed ByteDance would then be given 6 months to find a new owner for their U.S. operations before any significant actions could be enforced. 

If another owner cannot be found, the Act would prevent Apple and Google from distributing the TikTok app on their app stores (along with preventing existing app maintenance) while also banning U.S.-based web hosting facilities from hosting TikTok.

I personally feel a little uncomfortable with what feels like a major overreaction, and it’s unclear how the Australian government may respond at this stage. 

Impact on the Creator Economy

Creators, including many that we work with regularly, rely on TikTok as a source of income through brand partnerships and sponsored content.

Established careers built on TikTok, including influencers, content creators, and artists, face significant disruption if access to the platform is restricted. The ban would threaten creators’ livelihoods by potentially cutting off their primary source of income and disrupting established revenue streams.

I’ve been asked by a number of creators, over the last couple of days, what this may mean and what the implications are for them. The advice I’ve provided is what I’ve always said. Avoid relying solely on one platform to grow your profile or business.  Diversify where you build your communities, for example: create a website that YOU own, develop an email database for newsletters, host IRL events, have a presence across multiple social platforms, create a relevant product line which brings in revenue outside of social media. Ultimately, keep your finger on the pulse. Be aware of when changes are imminent and be prepared with a community portfolio, so that you aren’t at the complete mercy of an algorithm or conglomerate-owned platform and its politics. 

We’ve seen this happen before; I was working in the industry when the long-form written blog became redundant. “Bloggers”, as they were called in the early 2000s, had to build new skills and learn new ways of creative expression. If they didn’t, they were left behind. 

Hope for Resolution

Despite the challenges posed by the ban, I’m optimistic for a resolution that balances the USA’s national security concerns with the needs of creators.

My prediction is that the bill will indeed pass through the Senate in approximately a month’s time, and that the Chinese government will be forced to concede to US demands and facilitate a transfer of ownership to a US-based entity.  Will this ultimately benefit both creators and users by ensuring continued access to the platform? Time will tell.  I’ve little doubt that ByteDance will not be willing to share the IP/knowledge of how the algorithm works as part of the transfer. Nor how much personal information TikTok has been keeping to make it work. The result? Probably a new TikTok that becomes a little boring – but maybe that’s a discussion for down the line.

At Hoozu, we will keep you updated with the latest developments as we are committed to the success and growth of this industry. Get in touch for help running Influencer campaigns that stay ahead of the curve.

Cover Photo by Collabstr on Unsplash