Hey, remember all that talk about TikTok getting banned in the US? Yeah, not so much.
In the latest blow to the White House's efforts to ban the Chinese-owned app, a group of TikTok stars have won an injunction against the Trump administration's Executive Order, which could have still seen the app banned in the US on November 12th.
Now, there's no timeline for any enforcement action that would suspend or ban TikTok in the US market.
To re-cap the TikTok vs US Government battle:
- On August 6th, US President Donald Trump issued two Executive Orders, which outlined separate bans on the operations of Chinese-owned social apps TikTok and WeChat within the US. The orders were each to take effect within 45 days of being signed, which gave both apps until September 20th to either sell to a US company, or face a full ban in America
- On September 19th, a day before the ban was set to hit TikTok, parent company ByteDance announced significant progress in a US takeover deal, with a consortium lead by Oracle and Walmart to buy the US operations of TikTok. The US Department of Commerce then granted an extension, giving TikTok till September 27th to finalize the details of the proposed takeover, or, again, it would face removal from the US app store
- WeChat, meanwhile, challenged the White House Executive Order in a US court, citing a lack of evidence for the concerns leveled against it. And it won, meaning that WeChat remains fully available in the US, pending a new hearing
- On September 27th, hours before TikTok's new app store ban was set to take effect, it also won an appeal against the White House EO, citing the WeChat case as precedent, which meant that it too avoided a ban
- The court then set a November 4th hearing date for a follow-up on the TikTok ban in the US app store - while based on the original EO, TikTok still had till November 12th to finalize details of its full sell-off to a US-based company, or it still faced a complete ban in the US.
Now, TikTok's forced sell-off is essentially a moot point - a filing lodged by TikTok creators Douglas Marland, Alec Chambers and Cosette Rinab, who collectively have over 7 million followers on the app, successfully argued that banning the app would rob them of their livelihoods.
As per the filing:
"[TikTok] gives content creators like Plaintiffs the opportunity to profit from the videos they post on TikTok. Plaintiff Rinab, for example, creates videos for fashion brands and other companies, and earns between $5,000 and $10,000 per video. Further, the exposure Plaintiffs have obtained through TikTok has resulted in promotional and branding opportunities. For instance, Plaintiff Chambers earned $12,000 for promoting the Extra gum brand in a TikTok video. [...] Without access to the TikTok app, Plaintiffs will lose access to all of these followers, as well as to the professional opportunities afforded by TikTok."
Pennsylvania District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone ruled in favor of the trio, which, as noted, essentially leaves the original EO in limbo.
Interim Global Head of TikTok Vanessa Pappas posted this response to the case:
So, TikTok is safe, right? That's the end of all the US ban talk?
Well, not quite. As noted, Washington District Judge Carl Nichols set a November 4th hearing date for the US government to re-state its case on its proposed ban on transactions with the app, due to its alleged Chinese Government connections.
Whether that hearing is now abandoned due to this finding is unclear, but essentially, the US Government can still appeal the findings and seek to push forward with the original TikTok ban.
But the timing could be key. The US Election is on November 3rd, and depending on the outcome, the push against TikTok from the White House could be very different come November 4th.
That could mean that for all the talk, for all the discussion, for all the headlines about the US banning the app, in the end, absolutely nothing may have changed for TikTok. Other than losing a CEO, and gaining a heap of publicity, boosting awareness of the app. Other than that, TikTok is currently under no additional restrictions of limitations, and has thus far had every case against it thrown out.
At the end of the day, the fact remains that while there is a lot of speculation around TikTok's potential links to the Chinese regime, and how such could be used by the CCP, the actual evidence remains fairly thin.
There had been some concerns that the challenges to the White House EO could look bad for the US Government, but right now, the Trump Administration has various other battles to fight.
If Trump wins next week, maybe we'll see an escalation in the efforts to kick TikTok out of the US. But right now, it looks like there'll be no change to the app.