In an interview with Fox News on July 6, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Trump administration was “looking at” banning the app because of worries that it promotes propaganda and is sending users’ information to the Chinese Communist Party.
TikTok’s CEO, Kevin Mayer, is an American, but the app’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in China.
TikTok users have had a varied reaction to the potential ban. Some have told their followers that they will move to other social media sites; others are more skeptical that the ban will happen.
Dallas user Brittany Tomlinson (@brittany_broski), who has 4.8 million followers, reacted to the news. In a video, she joked that while she was “crying” at the possibility of the app being banned, she said that “if it does get banned, I will never ever have to see another Hype House Bang Energy ad ever again, and I, for one, am pumped!”
The Hype House, located in Los Angeles, is a mansion used by 19 TikTok influencers to produce content; four of the members live there full time.
Ashlay Soto (@ash_lay), from Fort Worth, has 7.5 million followers; she posted a funny reaction video to the potential ban, using audio from a scene in the show The Office, in which characters are panicking over a fire scare.
User @itsmenikkkk, from Los Angeles, California, has 1.2 million followers on TikTok; in her bio, she describes herself as “the big sister you didn’t know you needed.” She posted a video saying that, in the event of a ban, she would “continue to post content on Instagram and YouTube.”
“If it does get banned,” she said in the video, “I’ll still be here. And now we have a plan.”
Conversely, @lauraleewatts, who has 1.9 million followers and is from Oxnard, California, posted her own response to the topic, arguing that the ban will not occur in the U.S. She said in the video that she is not worried about it, because large tech companies such as Facebook have also survived backlash for security concerns, and she believes that TikTok will work to protect users’ data.
Hank Green, author and co-founder of the VlogBrothers YouTube channel with his brother and The Fault in Our Stars author John Green, weighed in on the topic. In a post on Twitter, he said that the possible ban could be an opportunity for content creators to move to crowdfunding platforms, such as Patreon.
“Moving to Crowd Funding is a way to connect with your most active community members, giving creators stability to build from,” Green wrote in the tweet.
TikTok rose to popularity in August 2018 when it was merged with the app Musical.ly, in which users created short lip-synching videos. Trends on the app include learning dances to popular songs, such as “Savage,” by Megan Thee Stallion, “Lottery (Renegade)” by K CAMP and “Cannibal” by Kesha.
One of the most successful TikTok users is 16-year-old Charli D’Amelio (@charlidamelio), who is part of the Hype House. She gained 73.3 million followers on the app for her dance videos.
Dallas is home to another popular TikTok user: Dr. Tiffany Moon (@tiffanymoonmd), a board-certified anesthesiologist who posts funny videos on her account, which has 83,200 followers.
If TikTok is banned, some users are maintaining a positive attitude. User @djhuntsofficial posted a video to his 1.4 million followers with a message of hope.
“If TikTok does get banned, I’m pretty sure that, just like with Vine, there will be another app, if there’s not one already, where we can do the same thing that we’re doing on TikTok,” he said in the video. “Everything is going to be okay.”
According to CNN, TikTok said that its data is not stored in China and is not governed by Chinese law; the data from users in the United States is kept in the U.S., and a backup is stored in Singapore.
TikTok isn’t the only Chinese-based tech company to be scrutinized by the Trump administration. The White House recently announced new restrictions on Huawei, a Chinese tech company, prohibiting other businesses from using U.S. equipment to manufacture technology for the company, The New York Times reported.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to a defense bill that would prohibit TikTok from being downloaded on government devices, and the Senate Homeland Security Committee unanimously approved a bill with the same measure, according to The Hill. The Senate is expected to pass its own version of the bill, before the two versions are merged and sent to the White House.
Users might be facing this change sooner rather than later. Mark Meadows, President Trump’s chief of staff, informed reporters that while there is no definite deadline, it could occur within “weeks, not months.”
These announcements come as tensions continue to grow between the U.S. and China, including increased U.S. military presence in the South China Sea.
India recently announced that it banned the app, and Australia is also considering the move.