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TikTok influencers fear their careers will be destroyed and their work 'deleted forever' as a US ban looms

TikToker dancing in front of phone
There are 170 million Americans on TikTok, and they're stressed about a potential ban.David Espejo/Getty Images
  • TikTokers are stressed about a potential US ban and are criticizing the intentions behind it.

  • Chinese-owned ByteDance would be forced to sell TikTok to a US company or face a nationwide ban.

  • TikTokers argue a ban would infringe on their freedom of speech and hurt the creator economy.

TikTokers are stressed about the app potentially being banned in the US, saying it would be "devastating" to their careers since the businesses they've built would "shrivel and die."

The US House of Representatives voted on Saturday to pass a bill that would force Chinese-owned ByteDance to sell its US TikTok assets or face a nationwide ban.

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The US Senate will likely approve the bill this week and President Joe Biden has said he'll sign it. Once passed, the bill would mean TikTok could be banned in the US in 2025, but it could take even longer (if it happens at all).

Still, creators are unhappy, and see the move as hypocritical and infringing on their freedom of speech.

Those who want the app banned argue that TikTok may be forced into giving over user data to the Chinese government. They also fear TikTok could be suppressing or amplifying certain topics due to governmental pressure.

TikTok has repeatedly denied these allegations and made attempts to distance itself from ByteDance.

TikTok and its users have fought back, with the platform urging people to call their representatives and make their views heard.

Creators have enthusiastically mobilized against the bill and called out what they say is the hypocrisy of the US government. They claim it focuses heavily on one app while leaving other tech companies, such as Meta and Google, alone.

Leo LonDini, who has nine million followers, questioned how other companies with partial Chinese ownership seemingly have a free pass.

Tencent, a Chinese company, has a stake in Epic Games, Universal Group, Warner Music Group, Spotify, Tesla, Snapchat, and many others, for example, and a significant amount of Apple products are made in China.

"Listen, I don't want any government, foreign or domestic, spying on me," LonDini said. "And if our government could actually prove that Chinese companies are spying on us, well, then we have a decision to make, don't we? Either we accept the risk, or we get rid of the app."

The kicker is having a choice, he added.

"The choice that you took away from us."

Brett Jansen, a creator who shares news on TikTok, said in a recent video that it was suspicious that an app where she thinks information spreads freely will potentially be banned.

She described the bill as "fear-mongering," and accused the government of using people's ignorance of TikTok and how it works to their advantage.

"Can someone please help me to understand how the US government is not doing the exact same thing that they are accusing China of doing?" she said. "Which is essentially controlling the narrative, controlling how our data is collected, and controlling how that data is used."

Shira, a content creator who operates under the name shirashiraonthewall, told Business Insider last month that the ban is '"a tactic to control the narrative."

"TikTok has cultivated a huge community of people who discuss politics and current affairs without it being altered by propaganda," she said. "A lot of us just want to know the truth."

Without TikTok, Shira said she personally wouldn't know about "some of the injustices occurring across the world."