What the Potential 'TikTok Ban' Means for You

US passes bill that could see popular app banned
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 24, 2024 3:30 AM CDT
US Passes Bill That Could Ban TikTok
A TikTok content creator, sits outside the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in Washington as Senators prepare to consider legislation that would force TikTok's China-based parent company to sell the social media platform under the threat of a ban, a contentious move by U.S. lawmakers.   (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

No, TikTok will not suddenly disappear from your phone. Nor will you go to jail if you continue using it after it is banned. After years of attempts to ban the Chinese-owned app, including by former President Trump, a measure to outlaw the popular video-sharing app has won congressional approval and is on its way to President Biden for his signature, the AP reports. The measure, passed as part of a larger $95 billion package that provides foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel, gives Beijing-based parent company ByteDance nine months to sell the company, with a possible additional three months if a sale is in progress. If it doesn't, TikTok will be banned. So what does this mean for you, a TikTok user, or perhaps the parent of a TikTok user? Here are some key questions and answers.

  • When does the ban go into effect? It would be at least a year before a ban goes into effect—but with likely court challenges, this could stretch even longer, perhaps years. TikTok has seen some success with court challenges in the past, but it has never sought to prevent federal legislation from going into effect.
  • What if I already downloaded it? TikTok, which is used by more than 170 million Americans, most likely won't disappear from your phone even if an eventual ban does take effect. But it would disappear from Apple and Google's app stores, which means users won't be able to download it. This would also mean that TikTok wouldn't be able to send updates, security patches, and bug fixes, and over time the app would likely become unusable—not to mention a security risk.
  • But surely there are workarounds? Teenagers are known for circumventing parental controls and bans when it comes to social media, so dodging the US government's ban is certainly not outside the realm of possibilities. For instance, users could try to mask their location using a VPN, or virtual private network, use alternative app stores, or even install a foreign SIM card into their phone. But some tech savvy is required, and it's not clear what will and won't work. More likely, users will migrate to another platform—and popular creators are likely to be found on other platforms as well, so you'll probably be able to see the same stuff.
(More TikTok stories.)

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