Why All of a Sudden, You’re Reading About a TikTok Ban in the US Again

This year, we’ve seen a lot of news on the possible ban of TikTok.

Of course, the TikTok ban is not recent news that just surfaced this year. It’s been debated for many years, even back when Donald Trump was still the president of the US.

If you want to know all about America’s history with TikTok, watch a Blue Cat talk about it in this video here:

Fast forward to 2024, we’re still discussing the TikTok ban.

In February, we watched senator Tom Cotton grill TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew and laughed when Shou had to repeatedly tell Cotton that he’s Singaporean.

In March, America passed a bill that could possibly lead to the ban of TikTok there.

Reader: Could? So there’s a possibility it may not be banned? Even after the bill was passed?

That’s right.

You see, there are many steps in law-making. Laws affect everyone in a country, so they need plenty of people to look over it and approve it.

The bill passed in March by the US House of Representatives states that ByteDance has to sell off TikTok to a US company if it doesn’t want the app to be banned in the US.

According to TikTok, more than 150 million Americans use the app, and nearly 5 million businesses have used it to start and grow their companies.

Tons of content creators also rely on the app for their income, and it’s uncertain what will happen to them if the app gets banned.

Why Are We Hearing About This Again?

The bill passed on 13 March gave ByteDance six months to make its decision before the ban would come into effect.

In April 2024, the House passed a revised bill that gives ByteDance a longer runway of nine months, that could be extended to one year if progress indicates a sale is nearing completion.

This extension came after Maria Cantwell, the Senate commerce committee chair, urged the House for a extension to “ensure there is enough time for a new buyer to get a deal done.”

The revised bill was also included in a package called the 21st Century Peace through Strength Act.

Reader: Why was it suddenly included in a package?

After the House passes a bill, the bill will move to Senate, which has to approve it before it moves to the president for approval.

Although the bill was passed by the House in March, it saw no movement in the Senate. The Senate showed little interest in taking up the bill back then.

The House had to do something to get the Senate to approve it.

And that’s where the package comes into play.

The 21st Century Peace through Strength Act: A Four-bill Bundle

The legislation includes provisions pulled from multiple pieces of legislation concerning national security. This includes foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel.

Some provisions included in the four-bill package are:

  • Mandatory sanctions against Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Al-Asqa Martyr’s Brigade, the Lion’s Den, and other Palestinian terrorist groups and their supporters;
  • Mandatory sanctions on anyone involved in activity covered under the UN missile embargo on Iran that lapsed in October 2023, on anyone involved in the supply, sale, or transfer of, or support for, Iran’s missiles and drones; and
  • Disrupting the ability of Hamas to fund terrorism, and making it harder for state sponsors of terrorism to abuse International Monetary Fund resources to finance terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah.

And, of course, the ByteDance ultimatum.

The US is one of Israel’s allies, and even helped defend Israel against Iran’s attack on 13 April.

Because of their relationship, it can be expected that the Senate will want to pass the bill package mentioned above to help Israel.

However, passing the package means all the bills included in it will be passed, including the ban on TikTok.

The TikTok bill was likely included in this package to gain more support.

In response to this, TikTok posted a statement claiming the House is “using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance” to ban the app.

The package, including the revised TikTok ban bill, was passed by the House on 21 April.

After the House passed the bill, its next stop is the Senate.

It’s likely that the Senate will take up this package this week, so expect to read more news on what the Senate says.

Additionally, since president Joe Biden has already said that he supports the bill and will sign it, things aren’t looking good for America’s TikTok users.

TikTok’s Value

TikTok is estimated to be valued at over S$100 billion.

Just take a moment to really think about how much that is. S$100 billion (S$100,000,000,000) has 11 zeros.

Assuming one cup of bubble tea costs $5, you can buy two million cups with $100 billion.

Putting human lifespan aside, you could drink one cup of bubble tea every single day for 5479 years.

Obviously, not many people casually have $100 billion lying around to buy an app, so even if ByteDance decides to sell TikTok, the number of potential buyers is really limited.

If TikTok Gets Banned

Many youths use TikTok for entertainment on a daily basis and even spend hours on the app.

Some use TikTok to get news since it’s easier to watch a video than read a length article. Some may also prefer TikTok as mainstream news may be censored or controlled.

A large number of artists also rely on TikTok to be discovered and gain exposure, while content creators may rely on the app for their income.

If TikTok is banned, those in the US stand to lose a significant source of entertainment and information, and possibly income as well.

Because of this, TikTok’s users are strongly against a ban. Americans have been voicing their opinions on various social media platforms such as X, Instagram, and yes, TikTok itself.

These Americans are repeatedly stating what Americans will lose – freedom of speech, income, news etc. – and are saying they will not support the politicians who are in favour of the bill.

Because many US TikTok users are of voting age, it’s possible that their protests may sway the final decision.

More News To Come Soon

To recap, the bill has not gone into effect yet because it still has to be passed by the Senate and approved by president Biden before it can come into effect (although Biden has said that he would approve it if the bill comes to his desk).

So, all eyes are on the Senate this week as everyone waits with bated breaths, because the fate of TikTok (and American users, I guess) lies in their hands.