Their favorite app might get banned — but instead of panicking, some TikTok users said they remain unfazed.
NBC News reported this week, citing a source close to the company, that the Biden administration is threatening to potentially ban TikTok in the U.S. if the app’s Chinese owners refuse to sell their stakes. When asked by NBC News about the threat, a handful of young users shared a similar sentiment: They’re not taking it seriously.
The online response appears to be less severe than when then-President Donald Trump and his administration floated a ban.
“This same thing happened a while back,” Haley Kowtko, 19, of California, said via text message. “Not many people are talking about it, especially on the app. I haven’t seen anything about the app being potentially banned.”
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That’s not to say that some people aren’t reacting on the app. The hashtag #DontBanTikTok had more than 93.2 million views, with some videos dating back to 2020 and others uploaded this week following reports of the Biden administration’s move. A TikTok spokesperson confirmed Friday that a handful of creators are planning an off-app protest in Washington, D.C., for Wednesday, hoping to bring their concerns to the Biden administration’s doorstep.
But the current sentiment among users serves as a stark contrast to the previous proposed ban by the Trump administration. At that time, one creator said they’d “never seen that many people talking about one thing on the app for so long.”
“I think because we all freaked out before and nothing happened, no one is taking it seriously,” Kowtko said.
Jacqueline Metzger, 17, said she was “a little surprised” when she heard of the potential ban. But she said losing TikTok would likely give way to another new platform or would make an existing platform more popular, just like TikTok filled the void left behind by the former short-form video app Vine.
“If TikTok is banned, someone is going to come up with an alternative. There are so many TikTok alternatives already, like YouTube shorts and Instagram reels,” Metzger said. “It’s everywhere, so I’m not too worried about that.”
This time around, there is also less of a fear among creators: Some have already been branching out beyond TikTok to broaden their following.
“I don’t see this happening soon or the near-term horizon, and creators since 2020 have been really savvy about being on multiple platforms and doing short-form video on multiple different places,” said Mae Karwowski, founder and CEO of the influencer marketing agency Obviously. “It’s less damaging than the initial story of 2020.”
She said the vibe among users and content creators on TikTok is currently “cautiously optimistic.”
I think the app will be around one way or another. I just don’t think it will be owned by ByteDance.
Gigi Robinson, 24, a content creator and Gen Z motivational public speaker
TikTok creator Marcus DiPaola, who has amassed 3.8 million followers, said he noticed waves of panic pricking up among creators who feared losing their platform.
DiPaola, who is known for posting videos about current events, said he had seen “countless TikToks” of creators urging followers to subscribe to their other platforms, just in case the platform vanished. However, DiPaola said he’s among the less worried crowd of users.
“I’m on a bunch of platforms,” he said. “If TikTok is banned, it would suck, but I’m not screwed.”
Others on the app said they aren’t concerned because they think TikTok could get sold to a U.S.-based company, meaning it wouldn’t disappear completely.
“I’m not genuinely worried at all,” said Gigi Robinson, 24, a content creator and Gen Z motivational public speaker.
She referenced when Microsoft was in the running to acquire TikTok when Trump attempted to ban the app.
“I think the app will be around one way or another,” she said. “I just don’t think it will be owned by ByteDance.”