Teenagers around the country suddenly became foreign policy experts when word got out that TikTok might be on the chopping block. As one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the world with 2 billion users, TikTok’s bite-sized videos are wildly popular with Gen Z. However, TikTok’s ownership by Chinese tech company ByteDance could make it a target of U.S. government officials concerned about security.
How Did Speculation About Banning TikTok In The U.S. Get Started?
On July 6, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo floated the idea of nixing TikTok in the U.S., and a day later President Trump confirmed that it’s a possibility. “We’re taking this very seriously. We’re certainly looking at it,” said Pompeo in an interview, alluding to security concerns with the app, specifically “private information” ending up with the Chinese government.
How Has TikTok Responded To The Potential U.S. Ban?
TikTok objects to any accusations of security breaches or impropriety. “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked,” said a TikTok spokesperson.
Is There Precedent For Banning TikTok?
Yes. According to The Verge, President Trump recently extended for another year his executive order barring “US companies from working with or buying telecommunications equipment from companies deemed a national security risk.” The most high-profile targets of the executive order are Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE, both of which Pompeo called out in his recent remarks about TikTok.
Additionally, TikTok was recently banned in India, its largest market. India identified security concerns as the reason for the ban, but many point to rising tensions between India and China since a recent skirmish on the Himalayan border as another likely cause. Whether the U.S. will align with India, citing security concerns as a reason for a ban, remains to be seen.
Will TikTok Really Get Banned In The U.S.?
At this point, the ban appears to be in the consideration phase and there isn’t any indication of how serious the Trump administration is about an actual ban. Relations between China and the U.S., have been tense since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which could increase the likelihood of TikTok being banned in the U.S.
What Should Digital Marketers Do About The Prospect Of TikTok Being Banned?
Nothing yet. As of right now, TikTok being banned in the U.S is just speculation. Digital marketers should continue their media spend and advertising as if nothing has happened, because it hasn’t. However, if considering a long-term contract, digital marketers should look closely at the out clauses, especially as it relates to a ban by the U.S. government.
In the event of a TikTok ban, multichannel digital marketing campaign strategies should offer support to any brands that have to shift priorities and resources away from TikTok.
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