Banning TikTok’s $100 Billion Industry Could Devastate the American Economy — Here’s How

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Time is ticking on TikTok as Congress weighs whether or not to ban the popular social media platform in the United States. Many lawmakers have expressed concerns about the majority Chinese ownership of the company (it’s overseen by Beijing-based company ByteDance) and its links to the Chinese Communist Party as well as how data from the app is handled. 

Some in Congress have deemed the app as an “immediate threat” to national security, per The Hill, which prompted an urgent session last week in which TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified on Capitol Hill trying to defend the platform and the secure measures its governing board has taken to ensure user data is safe.

There’s been no immediate determination just yet, though many have pondered what ramifications could come from banning the app, including effects on the American economy.

A look at the numbers shows just how popular TikTok has become. Per NBC, it’s grown into a “phenomenon” in the past five or so years, “with skyrocketing audience numbers and ad revenue.” Today that includes 150 million registered users across the country (or 45% of the U.S. population) and earning the title as the most downloaded app in both 2021 and 2022 with more than 210 lifetime downloads in the country.

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Of all the social media platforms, TikTok is also the most lucrative bringing in billions in revenue through ad dollars and payments to content creators. As NBC reports, citing data from research firm eMarketer, in 2020, that amounted to $780 million in advertising dollars; by 2023, that number is projected to be around $6.8 billion.

That is an incredible share of money being pumped into the American economy — without the platform, that is a $6.8 billion loss of financial circulation. As Forbes foresees, “A U.S. ban on the world’s most popular social media app would affect far more American businesses and people than just the 150 million using the platform here.” 

The article also notes the crucial point that many creative people have used TikTok to launch full businesses and careers. “The company says 5 million U.S. businesses use TikTok to reach customers. And some creators have themselves morphed into mini-industries supported by dozens–even hundreds–of staff, from managers, agents, lawyers and publicists down to editors, producers and assistants,” says Forbes.

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Banning the app completely could interrupt this booming industry and affect the “supply chain of jobs that come with it,” potentially adding even more collateral damage to an already fragile American economy.

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