On March 13, the House of Representatives passed the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, calling for Chinese tech company ByteDance to divest from TikTok. If it does not, the app would be effectively banned in the U.S.

The bill has since headed to the Senate.

There are tens of thousands of influencers on the app, according to Statista. They earn money through brand partnerships, by using their page as advertising for their business and by monetizing their content directly. Their profits vary: Some make thousands of dollars per year. Others make millions.

Some creators worry they will lose the boost in income the platform provides if the ban becomes law. Others worry they’ll lose access to conversations that have been critical to their understanding of the world. Here’s what a few influencers are worried about, specifically.

‘TikTok has allowed my business to keep our doors open’

A ban on TikTok could have dire effects on some creators’ bottom lines.

Emily Swift runs Darkslide Film Lab in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where she develops film by hand in a traditional black-and-white darkroom. She uses TikTok, where she has 67,000 followers, to post videos of the process; it helps her make as much as an extra $6,000 per month.

Of her last 250 orders, more than half, 166, came from people who found her on the platform, she says.

“TikTok has allowed my business to keep our doors open, and the ban threatens my ability to continue to do so,” Swift says. “My livelihood is at stake.”

Other influencers make the bulk of their income through monetizing content, and the ban wouldn’t necessarily force them to shut their doors. It would force them to pivot their content-creating efforts, though.

Some are already preparing for the shift. “I’ve put a lot of time and effort into growing our other platforms like on Facebook, Instagram in particular and YouTube,” says Hannah Williams, who runs Salary Transparent Street with her husband. The TikTok page, where she started the company, has 1.3 million followers.

Altogether, Williams’ business brought in more than $1 million in 2023. Most of that revenue comes from brand partnerships, which take place cross-platform. (The company signs NDAs that legally bar them from disclosing the details of those varied partnerships.)

Since 2023, Salary Transparent Street has made about $8,770 from TikTok directly through its Creator Rewards Program. If TikTok is banned, “it would just be a matter of redistributing some of our deliverables, adding more content to different platforms,” says Williams.

“Let’s say brands are allocating $50,000 a month for influencer marketing,” says Brandon Edelman, a full-time content creator whose handle, bran__flakezz, has 615,000 followers, “and they’re spending $40,000 on TikTok. That $40,000 goes back into the pot. And they might say, ‘Okay, we might not give all of that back to influencer marketing. But we might take $20,000 of that and then focus that onto our Instagram strategy.'”

Many major TikTok stars have been diversifying their income streams as well — some beginning long before the potential ban.

Charli D’Amelio‘s page, which boasts 152 million followers, has led to numerous other ventures. In 2023, she made $17.5 million from her clothing brand, Hulu show and partnerships with brands like Dunkin’, according to Forbes. She’s currently working to bring her family’s online shoe store to brick-and-mortar locations.

“You have to remember that social media comes and goes,” she said in an interview with CNBC at Shopify’s D’Amelio Footwear Pop-Up in New York in March.

‘I’ve learned so much from this app in the last two years’

For many creators, a ban would mean much more than a potential loss of income. It would mean audiences would lose access to a vital source of information.

I think TikTok has really become Gen Z’s version of Google,” Edelman says. “Rather than Googling a mac and cheese recipe, type it in on TikTok and you could actually watch the recipe being made for you.”

The platform has become a way for people to hear a wider range of perspectives. “I’ve learned so much from this app in the last two years,” said user Alex Pearlman, whose page has 2.6 million followers, in an impassioned video. “And the biggest thing is to stop judging my fellow Americans.”

Williams believes the ban “sets a really dangerous precedent to freedom of information and freedom of speech.” Some legal experts have agreed.

For now though, TikTok is “still the best platform to grow,” says Edelman. “It still has the highest organic reach.”

His current advice for fellow influencers is simple: “Use it for as long as you can.”

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