Biden expected to sign foreign aid bill into law that includes potential ban on TikTok

MASS. — President Biden is expected to sign a bill today that would force TikTok’s parent company to either sell or be banned in the US. The bill is currently tied to a $95 billion package that includes foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel.

Once the bill is signed, TikTok won’t suddenly disappear from people’s phones. The legislation allows for a nine-month window for the parent company to find a buyer, but it comes with a hefty price tag. There are estimates that TikTok is worth anywhere from $50 to $100 billion in the US.

Lawmakers agreed to give the Chinese-based parent company Bytedance nine months to sell and a possible three-month extension if a sale is in progress.

The bill also bars the company from controlling the algorithm, which is the brains behind the operation and feeds users videos based on their interests. TikTok currently has 170 million users in the US and for years, the big concern from lawmakers was that Chinese authorities could get their hands on user data or influence Americans by controlling certain content on the social media app.

Opponents of the bill say the Chinese government could get information in other ways and they claim the US has not provided evidence that shows TikTok shares user information with Chinese authorities.

Boston 25 talked to Ken Cadieux in Natick who relies on TikTok for his business. He has more than 116,000 followers on the app where he shares his advice on healthy eating after undergoing weight loss surgery. Cadieux published a recipe book and sold more than 13,000 copies last year all thanks to TikTok.

“TikTok is the nucleus of my business like it’s responsible for my following, my customer list, my orders, TikTok shop has been a huge partner for me,” said Ken Cadiuex, who lives in Natick. “They’ve been investing in education and helping customers find me, it’s huge. This would for sure put me out of business, I don’t have the resources to pivot.”

If after nine months there is no buyer and a ban goes into effect, the app won’t just suddenly disappear on users phones. It would no longer be available in Apple’s or Google’s app store, so no one new could download it.

TikTok could no longer send updates and fixes and over time it would likely become unusable. This could force users to other social media platforms. Of course, this potential ban is expected to face legal challenges. Even TikTok itself is preparing a lawsuit to block the legislation.

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