Montana Bans TikTok

Although 33 other states have banned TikTok on government devices, on May 18 Montana became the first state to ban TikTok on both government and personal devices. The ban would become effective January 1, 2024.

TikTok bans on personal devices are also currently being proposed in New York, Vermont, Massachusetts and California.

The ban begs the question: What does this mean for TikTok creators and small businesses who reach an audience on TikTok?

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Montana TikTok Ban

The fine for each violation would be $10,000.

TikTok users would not be fined. Instead, TikTok and online app stores would be fined $10,000 per violation, per day each time a user accesses TikTok and each time a user is offered the ability to access or download the app.

Government entities supporting the TikTok ban cite data harvesting. They say that the TikTok app creates a privacy and security risk, which could lead to Americans’ personal information being leaked to the Chinese government.

Montana has become the first state in the US to ban the TikTok app, dealing a blow to creators and small businesses who use the platform to reach a portion of their audience and customers.

Small Business Deals

TikTok and entities such as the American Civil Liberties Union say such a ban violates First Amendment rights. In fact, a group of TikTok users filed a lawsuit against the state of Montana just hours after Governor Greg Gianforte signed the law.

They argue that the law violates First Amendment rights by limiting free expression through the app and by restricting users’ ability to access free legal speech. They further argue that data collection methods used to implement and enforce the TikTok ban would undermine users privacy and security.

Will TikTok bans on personal devices spread to other states? Are such bans enforceable?

Those are good questions, but ones without immediate answers.

The Impact on TikTok Creators and Small Business

No matter which side you defend on the TikTok argument, the issue makes one thing clear – a small business or TikTok creator shouldn’t rely of one online platform of any kind.

If you use TikTok for business, there are two popular TikTok alternatives to consider right now, YouTube Shorts and Facebook Reels. Interestingly, each of those was developed in response to India’s ban of TikTok in 2020. India banned TikTok and 59 other China-based phone apps, claiming information was being secretly collected from people’s phones.

Both YouTube Shorts and Facebook Reels limit video length to 60 seconds. Those video-sharing platforms include music and/or audio. Adding new platforms can help reach new customers.

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Lisa Price Lisa Price is a freelance writer living in Barnesville, Pennsylvania. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in journalism from Shippensburg State College (Pennsylvania). She has worked as a trucking company dock supervisor, newspaper circulation district manager, radio station commercial writer, assistant manager of a veterinary pharmaceutical warehouse and newspaper reporter.

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