TikTok bans within government institutions may pose a potential stumbling block for businesses who currently use the app as part of their ongoing business and marketing strategy. While lawmakers have, so far, limited bans to their own organisations, the move increases the likelihood of worldwide state censorship of the social media app.

On February 28th, 2023, reports emerged that the European Union issued an edict to ban TikTok from all its official devices across all three of its institutions. And in the same week the Canadian government announced it would follow a similar policy of banning the app on all government devices. Also, in the same week, The US House Committee on Foreign Affairs backed legislation, which if passed, would give President Joe Biden the power to institute a countrywide ban of TikTok on national security grounds.

As political will for widespread bans on the app builds, businesses that use TikTok as part of their marketing and business strategy must begin to reevaluate their own internal policies towards the app. Government opposition versus the huge business potential TikTok represents for businesses will be the root of increasing tension for businesses.

Jake Moore, Cyber Security Expert at ESET UK says, “Governments trying to limit its use or growth will come up against strong opposition – the TikTok ‘can of worms’ has very much opened with little chance of ever forcing the lid back on.”

According to an August, 2022, Pew Research Center survey, 67% of teens in the U.S. use TikTok, and 16% said they are on it almost constantly.

Mark Winkelmann, managing director of influencer marketing agency AFK, highlights the danger potential bans hold for some business. “The thing with TikTok is that for small businesses, it acts as a means of affordable marketing.

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At the moment, TikTok acts as the most important marketing channel for SMEs as they are able to directly communicate with their target customer base. TikTok is essentially incredibly cost effective marketing, especially since nano influencers are known to yield a better ROI.”

Disruption from government and its potential cybersecurity reform will be a battle to the very end the detrimental effects if bans continue will see smaller companies suffer.

If brands do have to switch their marketing strategies it will be good news for companies such as Meta, Youtube and Instagram, but will their formats be as authentic and transparent as TikTok?

Permele, from influencer marketing agency Billion Dollar Boy explains, “Instagram and YouTube will need to embrace authenticity and transparency over the heavily curated content they’re more commonly known for. TikTok is upbeat, democratic, and addictive. 

TikTok champions raw, low production, unfiltered content which resonates well with younger demographics and feels more authentic to brands.”

Mo Harber-Lamond, VPN editor at TechRadar says: “the true solution to this lies in stricter legislation that applies to those abusing data, not punishing those enjoying an apparently harmless app.”