TikTok Creators Seek Business Diversification Amid US Ban Threat

TikTok Creators Seek Business Diversification Amid US Ban Threat
Cover Image Source: TikTok logo is displayed on an iPhone. Getty Images | Photo by Dan Kitwood/Edited

For four months now, bipartisan support in the US has been growing for a ban on the social media platform TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. Congress cites data privacy concerns, which emerged from an investigation initiated by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice in March 2023. As political tensions escalate, numerous TikTok creators are exploring ways to diversify.

Charli D’Amelio and Dixie D’amelio (L to R) | Getty Images | Jeff Kravitz
Charli D’Amelio and Dixie D’amelio (L to R) | Getty Images | Jeff Kravitz

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Among those exploring alternatives is Charli D’Amelio, the second-most followed creator on TikTok. The 19-year-old, earlier a competitive dancer, along with her sister Dixie, has earned tens of millions of dollars through the social media platform. However, uncertain about TikTok's future, they are seeking new avenues.

Consequently, Charli is currently collaborating with Shopify to launch her family's online show brand in physical stores. "You have to remember that social media comes and goes," she said in an interview at Shopify’s D’Amelio Footwear Pop-Up in New York on Friday.

"There’s new apps, there’s new people, there’s exciting new trends. You don’t always get to be first in line for everything," she told CNBC.



 

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"There’s a little bit of fear when it comes to social media, just because you never know what’s coming next," Charli said. According to her father, the goal is to establish a brand that reduces influencers' reliance on social media platforms. "It’s like being on a hamster wheel, and this helps you break free from it. You become less reliant on the platform," he explains.

Charli skyrocketed to fame in 2019, and just two years later, Forbes crowned her as the highest-paid creator on the video-sharing platform. Alongside her sister, they reportedly earned $27.5 million that year, as stated by the publication.

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TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew | Getty Images
Image Source: TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew | Getty Images

Meanwhile, Members of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party have introduced a bill stipulating that ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, must divest TikTok or risk facing a ban in the US. President Biden has voiced his support for the bill. "If they pass it, I’ll sign it," he affirmed to reporters on Friday.

While there have been videos on the platform urging the government not to ban the app, lawmakers seem resolute, viewing TikTok as a tool for Chinese influence over American citizens. Furthermore, US Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) clarified that the inundated phone lines were simply reinforcing the case for the bill.

However, it's important to note that Congress cannot outright ban TikTok or any social media platform without substantiated evidence of genuine threats to privacy and national security. "The government is attempting to strip 170 million Americans of their Constitutional right to free expression," the company said in a statement.

social media app TikTok | Getty Images | Matt Cardy/
social media app TikTok | Getty Images | Matt Cardy/

According to lawmakers, the bill does not propose a total ban; instead, it aims to establish new authority to ban apps in "narrowly defined situations." They also believe that TikTok is deliberately trying to portray this bill as a total ban.

However, a recent open letter by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Democracy says that "This bill would functionally ban the distribution of TikTok in the United States, and would grant the President broad new powers to ban other social media platforms based on their country of origin."

Cover Image Source: Unsplash | Olivier Bergeron
Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Olivier Bergeron

Some experts argue that there are more effective approaches to enhance security than simply banning an app. One such approach involves enacting comprehensive digital privacy legislation.

"This bill would not adequately safeguard us from the numerous threats to our digital privacy emanating from criminals, private companies, and foreign entities," explained David Greene, civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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