TikTok creators react to Biden signing ban-or-sell law: ‘We don’t want a TikTok ban’

TikTok creators weren’t surprised to hear that President Joe Biden signed into law a bill that could lead to a TikTok ban, but they’re close to unanimous in their belief that the federal government is wrong to push the legislation forward.

For almost four years, since July 2020, a potential TikTok ban has been under consideration by members of the federal government. A bipartisan bill to ban TikTok in the U.S. was first proposed in December 2022, and the version that was just signed into law has been in the works since before March. It’s not an immediate ban — it includes a nine-month deadline for the company to sell to a U.S.-approved owner or face a ban — and TikTok CEO Shou Chew says the company will fight the decision in court.

On the app, chatter around the bill has been going strong for months, with creators and users incensed that Congress is focusing on TikTok over other issues that are popular with the app’s user base, which skews young.

A video from three days ago from popular New York creator Dutch de Carvalho, which has close to 8 million views and 2 million likes, reviews a list of things Carvalho says Americans don’t have: affordable housing, student loan forgiveness, a higher minimum wage and free Covid-19 tests among them.

“Can we at least watch videos on an app of people doing fun things and learn about the world around us?” the video’s creator says. “No. But don’t forget, we’re listening to you,” he says from the perspective of the government.

Three TikTok creators with large followings shared their feelings with NBC News about the legislation and how the user base will continue to react to it.

“I don’t think TikTok is going away,” Marcus DiPaola said. DiPaola covers news on TikTok to an audience of almost 4 million followers. He said that in court, the U.S. will have to show evidence for its primary concern underlying the bill: that TikTok could be sharing American user data with the Chinese government, or that TikTok is recommending Chinese government propaganda to American users. TikTok has denied both.

“They need to prove that they’re actively doing it, and I don’t see that happening,” DiPaola said.

Still, DiPaola said, the proposed ban has stoked fear on the app.

“You see that because every single video about TikTok getting banned blows up,” he said. “It’s not just creators; it’s users who don’t create anything. It’s the people with small businesses that depend on TikTok for advertising.”

TikTok introduced TikTok Shop in September, which has allowed an explosion of small businesses to sell their products on the app, and creators to get a cut for advertising the products.

A.B. Burns-Tucker, who has over 700,000 followers on TikTok, told NBC News that she, too, is concerned a TikTok ban would disrupt and disadvantage small-business owners in the U.S. who use the platform to advertise, especially Black and minority-owned businesses. Burns-Tucker, a paralegal, built an audience in part by covering current events in the language of African American Vernacular English.

“This app provides us with a livelihood, people of color, where we didn’t have opportunities before,” Burns-Tucker said. “We’re forced, in the next nine months, to figure out how to pivot.”

Heading into a presidential election, Burns-Tucker added that the move could further discourage voters and contribute to persistent distrust in the federal government.

“We as users, as American citizens and voters, called our representatives and said, ‘We don’t want a TikTok ban,’” Burns-Tucker said, referencing TikTok’s recent call to action that prompted users to reach out to their representatives and senators about the bill. “They made it seem like we were being mind-controlled by TikTok to bully them.”

Jules Terpak, who has over 350,000 followers on TikTok, thinks the conversation around banning TikTok will continue indefinitely, but she also doesn’t think it will make or break the 2024 presidential election.

“Trump originally proposed this move back in 2020,” Terpak said. “I think people will ultimately remember and it won’t have much of an impact on Biden versus Trump.”

Terpak urges creators to diversify their platforms and income streams, knowing that the future of any social media app is uncertain, especially TikTok.

“I assume a sale or ban of TikTok will be a never-ending conversation until one of the two happens,” she added. “Even if this bill doesn’t end up going through somehow, I expect the topic to come up again and again.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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