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  • Writer's pictureAli Menard

TikTok Ban Threat: Influencers Brace for Impact!

Would the world grind to a halt if TikTok faced a ban? Unlikely. However, the impact would be significant for the vast community of social media influencers who rely on the platform to cultivate their brand. For these individuals, TikTok serves as the primary avenue for sharing a diverse range of content, including lifestyle advice, workout routines, humorous dances, and nostalgic nods to past eras like the 90s. Since its surge in popularity in 2020, TikTok has become an indispensable source of entertainment for many, offering not only amusement but also a livelihood for countless influencers who have embraced the platform as an alternative to traditional 9-5 employment, allowing them to express themselves freely and reach audiences worldwide.

In the beginning of 2020, Donald Trump made efforts to ban TikTok, but his attempts were unsuccessful. This was prompted by concerns over questionable terms and conditions, as well as its ownership by a Chinese company, ByteDance. Within TikTok’s terms and conditions, it essentially asserts ownership over all information provided during account creation, granting them the authority to utilize it as they please, including selling private data to other companies. Let’s face it, hardly anyone takes the time to read through the terms and conditions when signing up for anything. TikTok was aware of this reality from the beginning, which likely prompted the inclusion of numerous dubious clauses.

Recently, the United States government has made another attempt to ban the app. On Wednesday, March 13, the House voted to pass a bill aimed at prohibiting TikTok from operating in the United States. However, the bill still requires approval from the Senate and ultimately the President’s signature to become law. President Biden has already stated that if such a bill were to reach his desk, he would sign it.

But unfortunately, the damage is already done. With TikTok already installed on millions of American phones and its popularity surging over the past four years, ByteDance has already amassed private information from countless users who downloaded the app. Now, one of two scenarios’ looms: either TikTok will face a band, or an American company will acquire it. Should TikTok indeed be banned, it won’t vanish instantaneously from users’ phones. Both the Apple and Google Play stores would remove TikTok, and gradually, restrictions on updates could diminish users’ accessibility to the app over time.

So, what implications does this hold for influencers? Following TikTok’s surge in popularity in 2020, both Instagram and YouTube responded by integrating features into their platforms to rival TikTok. Instagram introduced Reels, while YouTube introduced Shorts, both offering functionalities akin to TikTok. Instagram Reels imposes a 30-second video length limit, YouTube Shorts extends this to 60 seconds, whereas TikTok permits videos of up to 3 minutes in duration. All three platforms enable users to enhance their videos with music, dynamic transitions, text, gifs, and an array of user-friendly features.

While viable alternatives to TikTok exist, the question remains: will influencers still attain comparable reach and financial compensation on these platforms? Without delving deeply into the specifics, it’s worth noting that TikTok boasts the highest engagement rate among the three platforms. Recent data reveals TikTok’s immense popularity among Gen Z users, while Instagram maintains its appeal primarily among Millennials. Notably, TikTok remains the top-paying social media platform to date, with YouTube following closely behind. Unlike Instagram, YouTube does offer payment per view, providing creators with revenue for each view of their content. Meanwhile, Instagram content creators can still monetize their content through ads on Reels and by engaging in paid partnerships. Facebook, like TikTok, offers payment per view, which is great. However, in terms of viewership and popularity, Facebook ranks lower compared to Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

Indeed, there are viable options available for social media influencers seeking to maintain their revenue streams if TikTok faces a ban. Will these alternatives yield the same level of earnings as TikTok? It’s uncertain and will depend on various factors such as the type of content produced and the audience demographics. One last question arises: who might be potential buyers for TikTok?

Kevin O’Leary has previously shown interest in acquiring TikTok. In 2020, amidst TikTok’s initial threat of banishment, Microsoft made an unsuccessful attempt to purchase it. Perhaps Microsoft will try again. People have mused at the idea of Meta expanding and acquiring TikTok. However, that seems unlikely since TikTok currently poses as competition and Meta already operates a similar platform with Instagram Reels. For now, all we can do is wait to see what the outcome of TikTok’s fate will be.


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