The TikTok Bill Passed. Now What?

By: Keith Wagstaff · April 29, 2024 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

New Law

First things first: Yes, you can still use TikTok. But its future is murky.

Last week, we explained how House Republicans attached TikTok legislation to an aid package for Ukraine and Israel. That helped it move through the Senate. On Wednesday, it was signed into law by President Joe Biden.

So, what happens now?

The Timeline

China-based ByteDance, which owns TikTok, has around nine months to sell the app. Biden can extend that timeline by three months.

But legal challenges could delay the process. After Biden signed the bill, TikTok CEO Shou Chew said on the platform, “Rest assured, we aren’t going anywhere… We are confident, and we will keep fighting for your rights in the courts.”

Translation: TikTok is going to sue. It will very likely argue the law violates users’ free speech. A similar strategy worked when former President Donald Trump and the state of Montana tried to ban the platform.

Litigation, even if ultimately unsuccessful, could delay a ban for months or even years.

What If Someone Buys TikTok?

The law doesn’t explicitly ban TikTok. It mandates that ByteDance sell the platform. But, shortly after the bill was signed, the company said in a statement that it “doesn’t have any plan to sell TikTok.”

If ByteDance changed its mind, few companies or investor groups could afford to buy it.

The platform could be worth anywhere from $20 billion to $100 billion, experts told the Wall Street Journal . Tech giants with deep pockets like Meta (META) and Google (GOOGL) might seem like natural buyers, but would likely face antitrust issues.

Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he wants to lead a group of investors to buy TikTok. But even if ByteDance found a buyer, China indicated it would try to block a sale.

The Impact

If a TikTok ban went into effect, the app wouldn’t disappear from the phones of its 170 million users in the United States. It would, however, be banned from the Apple and Google app stores. And TikTok wouldn’t be able to update the app, meaning it could eventually become unusable.

Meanwhile, influencers and businesses that depend on TikTok could find themselves without a valuable marketing tool. To put a number on the commercial value it creates, a TikTok-sponsored study found the platform drove $24 billion in U.S. gross domestic product in 2023.

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