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Black Creators’ Financial Worries Amidst Possible U.S. TikTok Ban

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Black Creators' Financial Worries Amidst Possible U.S. TikTok Ban

TikTok is on the brink of a potential ban in the United States, and if enacted, one demographic that could suffer disproportionately is black content creators. The House of Representatives has advanced a bill that may result in restrictions on the app within the country. 

If approved by the Senate, the bill, formally known as the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, would likely render TikTok inaccessible on major U.S. mobile app stores. 

Lawmakers have been pressuring ByteDance Ltd., the China-based owner of TikTok, to divest its ownership or face shutdown due to mounting concerns over the national security risks posed by its current ownership structure.

Impact of the TikTok Ban on  Black Content Creators

This development has dealt a severe blow to creators like Summer Lucille, an entrepreneur based in Charlotte, NC, who owns the plus-size fashion brand Juicy Body Goddess.

Lucille reveals that, despite years in business and advertising on other social media platforms, it wasn’t until she joined TikTok that she exceeded sales goals in just one month.

“I don’t even utilize TikTok Shop; that’s the beauty of it,” Lucille says in a report. “I have built this community of plus-size women organically because of this platform. I was able to move 70,000 units in less than 30 days and move into a 15,000-square-foot warehouse because of one nine-second viral video.”

Lucille adds tearfully, “I do not know the future of my business that I built and that TikTok helped take to the next level. I don’t know the future, and that scares me. It scares me because I have devoted my life to this. I’m terrified. I am terrified.”

Many others echo her concerns. TikTok boasts over 170 million American users, with at least 5 million businesses having accounts on the app.

Despite black women outpacing the business growth of men and all other women-owned businesses, they receive less than a percentage point in VC funding.

Taylar Barrington, owner of influencer marketing agency Cliquish, based in Atlanta, Ga., emphasizes the importance of TikTok for cash-strapped black women entrepreneurs to reach their key markets.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that content creators are essentially small businesses,” Barrington says in a report. “All of these entrepreneurs are at risk of losing one of their most viable business tools. We’re talking about a huge economic risk here.”

TikTok’s Defense: Challenges and Contradictions

In recent years, TikTok has become synonymous with digital democratization, providing creators of color with a platform to reach wide audiences and amplify their voices, in contrast to other platforms that suppress non-paying content creators.

Creators like Kita Rose, with over 3.2 million TikTok followers, utilize the platform not only to stay informed about global events but also to earn a living. Since joining its Creator Fund, Rose claims to have earned upwards of $5,000 per month.

“It’s such a bummer that this really important platform, which seems to be about its community and not feeding into corporate greed, is on the verge of being taken away from us,” Rose laments.

The White House’s swift decision to advance the bill underscores the urgency of the matter. “This is not an attempt to ban TikTok; it’s an attempt to make TikTok better,” former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remarked in a floor debate ahead of the vote.

TikTok, however, disagrees. “This process was secret, and the bill was jammed through for one reason: it’s a ban,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement shared with a report. We are hopeful that the Senate will consider the facts, listen to their constituents, and realize the impact on the economy, 7 million small businesses, and the 170 million Americans who use our service.”

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