After numerous attempts at the federal and state level to ban the social video platform TikTok, there is now a U.S. law that imposes nine months to get new ownership or face a nationwide prohibition.

Congress bundled that law into a package of bills that otherwise dealt with foreign aid, casting the final votes Tuesday. President Joe Biden signed the bill Wednesday.

While there’s been some investor interest amid the legislative debates, a sale has not taken place.

TikTok, which has more than 170 million American users, remains a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese technology firm ByteDance Ltd.; and China has already said it would oppose a forced sale of TikTok.

TikTok is not just a social platform on its own merits; but its short-form vertical videos are often shared on other platforms. Its users include political campaigns, small businesses and hobbyists who present their messages with a short sketch or music video format.


Why Did this Happen?


Lawmakers from both parties — as well as law enforcement and intelligence officials — have long expressed concerns that Chinese authorities could force ByteDance to hand over data on the Americans who use TikTok.

The worry stems from a set of Chinese national security laws that compel organizations to assist with intelligence gathering - which ByteDance might be subject to.

The company has said it has never shared U.S. user data with Chinese authorities and won’t do so if it’s asked.

Lawmakers and some administration officials have also expressed concerns that China could - potentially – direct or influence ByteDance to suppress or boost TikTok content that are favorable to its interests. TikTok, for its part, has denied assertions that it could be used as a tool of the Chinese government.

And there are reports that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating TikTok over its data and security practices.

When Does the Ban Go Into Effect?


The law, as passed, 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 a sale does not take place, TikTok will be banned.

Will There be Delays or Challenges?


TikTok, which has long denied the app is a security threat, is preparing a lawsuit to block the legislation.

What If I Already Downloaded It?


The app most likely will not disappear immediately from your phone should a ban take effect.

But it would disappear from Apple and Google’s app stores, which means users won’t be able to download it, get updates or security patches.

“The TikTok bill relies heavily on the control that Apple and Google maintain over their smartphone platforms because the bill’s primary mechanism is to direct Apple and Google to stop allowing the TikTok app on their respective app stores,” said Dean Ball, a research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Basically over time, the app would likely become unusable – or at least, not as popular.

What Will TikTok Users Do?


If the experience in India is any indication, TikTok content creators and their fans will eventually migrate to other apps such as Instagram, which has a short-form video option. Google has also introduced YouTube Shorts.

India had about 200 million TikTok users when that country banned that and other Chinese apps in 2020; and many of those participants have moved on to other services.

Well-established U.S. TikTok influencers, including beauty and fashion gurus, have continued to post on the app amid the legal wrangling. But they’re also crossposting or creating videos for Instagram or YouTube, said Nicla Bartoli, the vice president of sales at The Influencer Marketing Factory, an agency that works to pair content creators and brands.

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