Small Businesses in Uproar over Potential TikTok Ban

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( – As Congress floats the possibility of banning the social media app TikTok, most large companies and businesses will be able to adapt their marketing strategies, while smaller enterprises will have more trouble recouping the loss of attention generated on the platform.

Will solo entrepreneurs and smaller firms experience a bigger hit to their businesses if TikTok is banned in the U.S.? This is one of the concerns being raised about the ongoing dispute in Congress about the social media app.

On Wednesday, March 13th, the House of Representatives passed a bill that could result in banning the app if its Chinese majority shareholders of parent company ByteDance do not liquidate their ownership of TikTok within six months. Whether or not it will pass the Senate remains to be seen at time of writing, but the move has sparked a nationwide conversation about free speech rights, the First Amendment, and free enterprise.

Larger brands relying on the app to reach younger potential customers aren’t panicking over the decision, even though many are already restructuring promotional campaigns intended for TikTok to be used on alternative platforms, such as X or Instagram. These bigger brands also have connections to notable influencers with large followings on these other platforms they can turn to. Smaller brands and companies cannot pivot in the same way if they have built up most of their audience of potential consumers on TikTok; they will be left out to dry if the app is ultimately banned.

The ban proposal was initially supported by former President Donald Trump back in 2020, but he has since changed his position and is now opposing the ban because he says it will give Facebook more power by eliminating a major competitor. Trump called Facebook “a true enemy of the people.”

The proposal is anchored to the theory that because a Chinese company holds the controlling shares of TikTok, this means the data of its primarily American users is available to the Chinese government. The national security concerns include the potential for TikTok to be used to influence the American youth.

Some of the concerns revolve around the algorithm that feeds users more of what it thinks they want to see in order to hold their attention and keep them on the app, which is part of how most social media works, but this could theoretically be tweaked to promote certain ideas over others. It also makes social media more addicting, even if making it easier for businesses and brands to find specific audiences.

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