It’s official: President Joe Biden has signed a law that will ultimately ban TikTok in the United States unless its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, sells it to a U.S. buyer. However, with one-third of U.S. adults using TikTok, what does this ban mean for creators who have made a living using the app? Let’s discuss all you need to know.

TikTok creators don’t need to panic just yet

Although the bill has been passed by both the House and Senate and was signed by President Biden, the ban isn’t in effect yet. In fact, it’s possible the ban may never go into effect. The bill passed essentially gives TikTok and ByteDance a year (nine months, plus a three-month extension if negotiations move forward) to sell TikTok to a buyer approved in the United States. So, if ByteDance decides to sell TikTok in that timeframe, TikTok won’t be banned in the United States.

However, it appears TikTok and ByteDance aren’t currently considering this option. TikTok CEO Shou Chew made it clear that TikTok won’t be going down without a fight and will challenge the law in court. This could also ultimately postpone the ban as well.

“As we continue to challenge this unconstitutional ban, we will continue investing and innovating to ensure TikTok remains a space where Americans of all walks of life can safely come to share their experiences, find joy, and be inspired,” Chew said. “Rest assured, we aren’t going anywhere … The facts and the Constitution are on our side and we expect to prevail again.”

All that to say, TikTok isn’t currently banned and won’t be for at least the remainder of the year. So, TikTokers still have some time to brace themselves for a potential ban in the future.

What if the ban does go into effect?

While it’s unclear whether TikTok will ultimately be banned in the United States, the chance it may is truly concerning for all creators. The most obvious concern is the immediate effect the ban would have on creators’ revenue. Although TikTok has notoriously given creators low payouts for their content (which could change with TikTok’s New Creator Rewards Program), TikTok is an invaluable tool for creators to promote their content and land lucrative brand deals. It’s now common practice for non-exclusive TikTok creators to use the platform to increase their profits across all their active platforms.

Short-form content is essential for brand growth. With TikTok out of the picture, creators would be forced to pivot elsewhere, similar to how Vine creators had to when the platform shut down.

“This app provides us with a livelihood, people of color, where we didn’t have opportunities before,” TikTok creator A.B. Burns-Tucker said. “We’re forced, in the next nine months, to figure out how to pivot.”

Others, like TikToker Shira, worry that a ban would be detrimental to the creator community. In an interview with BBC, Shira said, “I’m not sure what all these people are going to do if the ban goes through … There is no unemployment for creators or fallbacks.” Having spent years growing a dedicated audience, Shira’s work could be taken away in a few months. And unfortunately, this would be the case for many others, too, if the ban goes into effect.

Pivoting to survive

Although a TikTok ban would be devastating, it doesn’t spell the end for TikTokers or short-form video. There are other options available, such as YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels that offer a solid alternative to short-form creators. If the TikTok ban ends up happening, we’ll likely see a mass migration of these creators to these services. The fight to attract these creators on top platforms would intensify, as it did after Vine went under.

What can creators do now?

The potential TikTok ban is more than frustrating for creators; it’s downright terrifying. Even if you don’t use TikTok, this law sets a precedent where the government can ban social media apps whenever it chooses to. While the government claims the ban is to protect the national security and data of the United States from China, others have speculated that the ban is for other purposes, such as controlling the narratives on TikTok. Regardless of the reason, the U.S. government is showing it has the power to pull the rug out from under creators, even if it destroys their revenue streams.

The best advice we can give TikTokers at this time is to do all they can to prepare for a potential ban. And the best way to prepare is to increase your presence on other creator platforms. Let your TikTok audience know where else you’re active in case they can no longer watch you on TikTok in the future. Continue to make content for TikTok, but also consider posting that content on Shorts or Reels. You may even consider venturing into long-form content on YouTube or Twitch. Diversify your revenue streams, something that all creators, regardless of TikTok or not, should do. Like TikToker Shira said, creators don’t have fallbacks. As many creators learned with the fall of Vine or the 2017 YouTube adpocalypse, it’s essential creators don’t put all their eggs in one basket if they want to make a living creating content.

As we step closer to a TikTok ban, we expect to see more and more creators looking to expand their safety nets, and we hope this, in turn, will help soften the blow if a ban ends up going through.

Featured image asset courtesy: TikTok