US TikTok ban: How quickly could the app be banned after Congress passes the bill?
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TikTok is close to being kicked out of the US after the Senate approved a bill that would ban the platform unless Chinese owner ByteDance sells TikTok.

The video-sharing app has millions of users around the world, but has faced growing questions over the security of its users’ data and its relationship with the Beijing government.

Now, the House and Senate have both passed bills that would, among other things, force the platforms’ parent companies to divest.

President Joe Biden has vowed to sign the ban into law.

Who wants to ban TikTok in the US and why?

Lawmakers from both major U.S. political parties are pushing for legislation to ban TikTok unless ByteDance agrees to sell the app to companies outside China.

They fear the Chinese government could force ByteDance to hand over data about TikTok’s 170 million U.S. users. TikTok insists it does not provide overseas user data to the Chinese government.

On April 21, MPs approved a $95bn (£76bn) foreign aid bill that included funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, but also paved the way for the forced sale of TikTok. .

The bill passed the Senate on April 23 and will now be sent to Biden for his signature.

This is not the first time US authorities have attacked TikTok.

Former US President Donald Trump tried to ban the app while in the White House in 2020.

However, Trump, who is currently the confirmed Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election, criticized the new law, arguing that restricting TikTok would give Facebook an unfair advantage.

When can a TikTok ban happen?

Even after Biden signs the bill, the ban will not go into effect immediately.

In fact, it will be years before Americans lose access to the app, as ByteDance has filed a lawsuit, possibly all the way to the Supreme Court, to block forced sales.

The bill also gives ByteDance a nine-month grace period to sell TikTok to an American buyer, and an additional three-month grace period before the ban takes effect.

That means the deadline for the sale will most likely occur sometime in 2025, after the winner of the 2024 presidential election takes office. If Trump wins, he could try to block the ban from taking effect.

How does a TikTok ban work?

The easiest way for the U.S. to ban TikTok would be to remove it from app stores such as those run by Apple and Google for iOS and Android devices.

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A ban would make TikTok unavailable to new users, since the app store is where most people download apps on their smartphones and tablets.

This means that users who already owned the app will no longer receive future updates aimed at improving security or fixing bugs.

The US bill prohibits applications controlled by adversaries of the US from being updated and maintained in the US.

Gives the president broad powers to restrict apps with ties to Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.

What has TikTok said it will do about this bill?

TikTok has heavily criticized the bill, calling it an affront to American free speech rights.

CEO Shou Zi Chew warned that the bill would give “more power to a small number of other social media companies” and put thousands of American jobs at risk.

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image caption,

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew studied at Harvard Business School and spent time on Facebook

ByteDance would need approval from Chinese authorities to sell TikTok, and the Chinese government has vowed to oppose such a move.

What are the reactions of US TikTok users?

Some creators and users in the US have also criticized the proposed ban.

Tiffany Yu, a young disability advocate from Los Angeles, told the BBC at a protest outside the White House that the platform was essential to her work.

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WATCH: How do young Americans feel about the TikTok ban?

TikTok asked its 170 million users in the United States to contact their political representatives and ask them not to support the bill.

But it may have backfired after TikTok users flooded their representatives and senators with “confused” calls.

Politicians say the campaign has exacerbated concerns about the app and strengthened their resolve to pass the bill.

Is TikTok banned in other countries?

If this bill becomes law in the United States, it could spark similar moves in other regions.

TikTok is already banned in India, which was one of the app’s biggest markets until it was banned in June 2020.

It is also blocked in Iran, Nepal, Afghanistan and Somalia.

The UK government and parliament, as well as the European Commission, banned TikTok from staff’s work devices in 2023.

The BBC also advised staff to delete TikTok from their work phones due to safety concerns.

How does TikTok work and how much user data does it collect?

At the heart of TikTok is an algorithm.

This is a set of instructions within your app that determines what content to show to the user based on data about how the user has engaged with previous content.

Users are provided with three main feeds on the app: ‘Following’, ‘Friends’ and ‘For You’.

While the “Following” and “Friends” feeds show users content from people they choose to follow or follow back, the “For You” feed is automatically generated by the app.

This curated feed has become a primary destination for users looking for new content and creators seeking millions of views if their TikTok videos go viral.

Critics claim the app collects more data than other social media platforms to power its highly personalized system.

This may include information about your location, device, the content you engage with, and the rhythm of your keystrokes as you type.

But popular social media apps like Facebook and Instagram collect similar data from their users.

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