For a while, it seemed rumors of a TikTok ban would remain that way—oh, how the tides have changed. On September 18, the Trump Administration confirmed it would remove the Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat platforms from U.S. app stores starting Sunday, September 20. The road to this landmark decision began in early August when President Trump issued an executive order claiming that user data could be used by the Chinese government for, lack of better words, sketchy activity. After that, the race was on for an American company to swoop in and save the day by overseeing U.S. operations. Microsoft was among the more high-profile contenders but earlier this week, Oracle announced a deal that could potentially pacify the administration’s security concerns (though we’re still waiting on deets, including the President’s sign-off.)
Understandably so, everyone has questions. Some are wondering if app store owners are allowed to sue the administration. Security experts see it as a violation of the First Amendment, as the ban feels “improvisational” since other similar apps remain untouched. “It looks like it’s largely a continuation of the pressure tactics to get ByteDance to make a deal,” said Senior Vice President at the Center for Strategic and International Studies James Lewis in an interview with The New York Times. “WeChat is sort of the human sacrifice of this deal. They’ve gone nuclear on them.” (If you’re already confused, ByteDance is the Chinese company that owns TikTok.)
In the meantime, the ban order is moving ahead. So what exactly does this mean? First, if you’re just learning that WeChat exists, you’re not alone. Long story short—it’s a Chinese-owned, all-in-one app that includes messaging, an electronic payment feature, and social media.
Starting September 20, you’ll no longer see TikTok or WeChat in app stores. That doesn’t, however, mean the app will disappear for current users. They just won’t be getting software updates, so those looking forward to a fancy new capability won’t be getting it. The new deadline to keep in mind is November 12. According to the order, that’s when “enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.” will be banned. In other words, that’s when using the app won’t be allowed.
If the timeline has taught us anything, it’s that a lot can change between now and November, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Statistically speaking, TikTok is the fasting growing social media app in the U.S and a vital tool for creators. This includes corporations who utilize it for lucrative campaigns, Gen-Z activists transforming viral trends into PSAs, and small business owners recouping pandemic-related losses with standout advertising. The app has also singlehandedly started careers, which partly influenced the launch of TikTok’s Creator Fund.
If you’ve depended on the app for a large chunk of your branding strategy, there’s reason to worry, but there’s always room to pivot. For starters, download and save your TikTok content for safekeeping. Next, review your overall marketing efforts. The social media ecosystem is expansive and there’s always multiple ways to promote your work and make money, whether it’s Facebook ads, fine-tuning your SEO, or another app just waiting to be discovered and inevitably over-saturated. Pivoting is a skill worth developing, no matter your hustle, and this ban is yet another reminder that you should always be ready to do it. In this case, pivoting shouldn’t be that difficult, as Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts are similar to (and undoubtedly inspired by) TikTok.
Most importantly, keep your eye on the news. This saga has been volatile and calls for larger conversations about how legislation impacts how and where we can display the things we work so hard creating.
In the meantime, I recommend registering for BlogHer Biz, a monthlong series of virtual (and free!) workshops for equipping every kind of creator, from a newbie small business owner to a blogger hoping to get more website traffic to the influencer who wants to master their elevator pitch. In other words, we’re celebrating National Women’s Small Business Month all month long. Learn more here.