The US side of TikTok faces an uncertain future as the clock ticks faster for the beloved video-sharing app. Leaving creators, brands, and users alike in limbo. For those out of the loop, here’s a timeline of events to catch you up on the recent tea:
The Latest Updates
- March 1, 2023: U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee voted to give President Joe Biden power to impose a nationwide ban on TikTok. Citing International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and Chinese-owned security concerns.
- TikTok expressed their disappointment and opposition of the vote in a statement on Twitter.
- March 14, 2023: TikTok considers divestment.
- March 15. 2023: The Biden administration threatens a nationwide ban unless ByteDance–parent company of TikTok–agrees to sell their stakes in the app.
- March 23, 2023: TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew agrees to testify before Congress, addressing national security concerns posed by the platform.
To put another obstacle on the political gauntlet ByteDance is running on. According to Bloomberg Intelligence, TikTok’s US-based business vaules between $40 billion and $50 billion. And internal affairs suggest TikTok is already weighing whether to cut ties with its parent company.
“We calculate after Bloomberg News reported TikTok’s leadership was discussing possible separation from ByteDance,”
“We don’t think a large tech firm might be interested in buying TikTok, but Microsoft’s focus on Bing and ChatGPT could drive interest in adding a video platform like TikTok to compete with Alphabet’s YouTube, especially if the Microsoft-Activision deal fails.”
So, no more TikTok right?
With over 150 million TikTok users in the United States alone, a messy Congressional hearing is abound. But this would not mark the the first in its kind. Facebook–renamed as Meta–faced a similar data sharing scandal back in 2018. The long and short of it:
- 2010s: British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica collected personal data belonging to 50 million (now estimated 87 million) Facebook users without consent
- March 2018: Whistleblower Christopher Wylie discloses the data breach
- April 2018: Facebook apologized, CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress for a painful Q&A session, and went home with just a historical FTC fine of $5 billion.
It’s going to be a hard fight. Adding to the fact, this isn’t the first time ByteDance faced a POTUS. Recall back to the distant past of 2020. When the Trump administration lead a legal crusade against the app, issuing two executive orders.
The first order would ban TikTok in the US, but was blocked by a federal judge that same year. The second order, ByteDance agrees to divest its U.S. assets to prevent a nationwide ban.
Now more than two years pasts in a legislative no man’s land of negotiations, it comes full circle. Where does that leave a 150 million active community who only wanted to do silly little viral dances? Or creators and brands who have made the video-sharing app into a livelihood.
For some, twiddle our thumbs until March 23, 2023. For others, lobbying for TikTok.
“TikTok creators are small business owners trying to make a living and put food on their tables, teachers educating the next generation of leaders, and everyday innovators who represent the breadth of America,” TikTok spokesperson Jamal Brown said in a statement. “Lawmakers in Washington debating TikTok should hear firsthand from people whose lives would be directly affected by their decisions.”