TikTok Ban: When Will the Creator Economy Feel the Pain, If Ever? | lpstrkl.com

TikTok Ban: When Will the Creator Economy Feel the Pain, If Ever?

On April 24, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill that would force a sale of TikTok by its Chinese parent company ByteDance or ban the app in the U.S. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew swiftly responded on the video app, arguing that banning it would violate the First Amendment right to freedom of expression and encouraging the app’s 170 million U.S. users to share testimonies about why TikTok should stay. “It’s obviously a disappointing moment, but it does not need to be a defining one. The facts and the Constitution are on our side,” Chew said. The Singaporean CEO made a similar plea in March after the House of Representatives passed the bill.

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TikTok will likely battle the decision in court. If Congress has its way, Americans will no longer be able to use a ByteDance-owned TikTok by January 2025 at the earliest. What TikTok might look like after a sale is uncertain. Not only may the Chinese government have a say in who buys the company, but it also has the power to retain TikTok’s algorithmic technology—making the platform much less desirable to prospective U.S. buyers.  

What about TikTok creators and the businesses that earn revenue from the app? It’s complicated. Many creators already post across platforms; those who haven’t will have six to nine months to figure out a strategy going into 2025. And if TikTok chooses to go to court, legal proceedings could further extend the timeline of an actual ban or sale. 

Creators including Remi Bader, a fashion influencer with 2.3 million followers on TikTok, have said they plan to continue business as usual even if they lose access to the app. TikTok tweaked its creator pay program at the end of 2023 following complaints that its previous $1 billion creator fund hardly earned creators a few dollars for making viral videos with millions of views. The latest industry data from ZipRecruiter and NeoReach shows that TikTok influencers earn an average yearly salary of $121,765, but the median salary is only somewhere between $15,000 and $25,000, and roughly half of them earn less than $15,000.

At SXSW in March, Megan BycelMeta (META)’s director of creator and public figure partnerships, said during a panel discussion, “Instagram and some of our other platforms are going to help fill that void” (as in, if TikTok is no longer available in the U.S.). But TikTok’s impact on short-form video is lasting. YouTube, Meta, and even Spotify have incorporated short-form video and recommendation features, modeling off of and competing with TikTok. During Spotify’s quarterly earnings call last week, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told investors that TikTok had helped Spotify level up its features. Ek credited TikTok for encouraging the rest of the industry to improve user experience, to follow trends, and to “improve our products.” Of TikTok, Ek said, “That’s what great competition does.” 

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