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TikTok’s Future Hangs in the Balance

TikTok’s Future Hangs in the Balance

On the 24th of April, a new bill was signed by U.S. President Joe Biden. This legislation threatens to ban TikTok unless ByteDance, its parent company, sells the app. ByteDance has a nine-month window to finalize a deal, with an additional 90-day extension if needed. If no deal is reached, U.S. app stores will be prohibited from listing TikTok.

TikTok plans to fight this decision in court, setting the stage for a lengthy legal battle. However, the app has already been banned in several countries worldwide, and ByteDance has been unable to overturn these bans. These actions have affected ByteDance’s operations, the creators who use the platform, and startups in the creator economy.

TikTok Bans Around the Globe

India

India, one of the world’s largest consumer markets, banned TikTok in June 2020, along with several other Chinese apps, citing national security concerns. ByteDance’s other popular app, Helo, was also included in the ban.

Afghanistan

In 2022, the Taliban banned TikTok and PlayerUnkown’s Battleground (PUBG) for “misleading youth.” Despite this, many Afghan creators continue to use VPNs to create and share content on TikTok.

Uzbekistan

Since July 2021, Uzbekistan has imposed restrictions on TikTok. In 2022, lawmakers proposed a complete ban after discovering that people were using VPNs to access the service.

Senegal

In August 2023, Senegal blocked TikTok following the sentencing of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko. The platform was used to voice dissent, leading to its ban. Authorities later demanded that ByteDance develop a method for officials to remove accounts.

Somalia

Around the same time as Senegal, Somalia banned TikTok, along with Telegram and betting site 1xBet, claiming these platforms were used to “spread horrific content and misinformation to the public.”

Kyrgyzstan

In August 2023, Kyrgyzstan also banned TikTok, citing concerns about “the health and development of children.” The country’s culture ministry noted that teens were attempting to reenact dangerous videos.

Nepal

In November 2023, Nepal banned TikTok, believing the app disrupted “social harmony” and negatively impacted “family and social structures.” The authorities were also concerned about the rise in cybercrime on the platform.

Other Bans

Iran and several other countries and regions, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Belgium, the EU, New Zealand, and Australia, have banned TikTok from official devices. The exact date of Iran’s ban is unknown.

TikTok’s Future Hangs in the Balance

The Impact of TikTok Bans

The ban on TikTok has had a significant impact on creators who relied on the platform for exposure and income. Small businesses also used TikTok to market their brands in unique ways.

India’s ban on TikTok was a turning point, prompting Instagram to launch Reels in India as a replacement. Meta (formerly Facebook) launched Reels in the U.S. a few months later, followed by YouTube’s introduction of Shorts in India.

The ban also led to the emergence of many local short video apps. ShareChat released Moj, Verse Innovation launched Josh, Times Internet launched MX Takatak and merged it with Moj in 2022, and InMobi released Roposo. Other competitors like Mitron, Chingari, and Trell also entered the market.

In Nepal, developers launched a TikTok rival called Ramailo in November 2023, but it was short-lived.

Due to the proliferation of apps, creators have had to distribute their content across multiple platforms. These platforms may not prioritize short videos like TikTok, and their recommendation algorithms may differ, potentially causing creators to lose their audience.

Following India’s ban on TikTok, ByteDance had to reduce its operations. Earlier this year, the company’s music streaming service, Resso, was also shut down in India after the government requested app stores to remove the app.

Digital rights activists argue that banning platforms like TikTok infringes on free speech. These issues may also arise in the U.S. as the government and ByteDance engage in legal battles.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr stated last year that India set an “incredibly important precedent” by banning TikTok in 2020. He suggested that the U.S. should follow India’s example to remove harmful apps.

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