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    What marketers need to know about the TikTok ban

    What marketers need to know about the TikTok ban

    The new law to ban or force the sale of TikTok creates a problem for marketers beyond the loss of a popular advertising channel. The law aims to protect the social media app’s 170 million American users from having their personal data exploited by the Chinese government. That’s a problem, but not the problem. 

    The problem — and what’s driving marketers crazy — is the absence of a national law protecting Americans from having their data exploited by any entity. Instead, we have a patchwork of local laws that leave most of the population without protection. 

    On Friday, Nebraska became the 16th state to enact a law protecting the data of its residents. That means marketers must ensure their data collection and comply with 16 different sets of rules. 

    What the law does. The legislation signed into law today by President Biden is a very rare thing because it passed both houses of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support. It requires TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell the app in nine months or face a national ban — the president could extend the deadline by 90 days. 

    This is the first time the U.S. government has moved to ban any app on a national level. However, it already ordered all federal employees to remove TikTok from government-issued phones. So far 34 states have banned it from government devices. (A Montana law preventing anyone in the state from using the app is on hold following a federal judge’s November ruling that it “likely violates the First Amendment.”) Many other nations — including the E.U. members, Canada, the U.K. and Australia — have also forbidden it on their employees’ work phones. India and Nepal made it illegal for anyone to use TikTok in their nations.

    Dig deeper: MarTech’s guide to GDPR: The General Data Protection Regulation

    Why it may be needed. The law’s supporters — and the other nations that have banned the app — say it is a matter of national security because TikTok gives the Chinese government a powerful tool to spread propaganda. They point to Chinese national security laws requiring businesses to cooperate with government intelligence gathering. 

    “Rivers of data are being collected and shared in ways that are not well-aligned with American security interests,” Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, said Tuesday. 

    The arguments against. People with no monetary or intelligence-gathering interest in TikTok have concerns about the law. 

    Some of the skepticism is based on Congress’s long history of technological ignorance. When Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress in 2018, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) asked, “Is Twitter the same as what you do?” Because of that, critics would like to see some proof of the risk posed by TikTok.

    Dig deeper: Executing a TikTok campaign: Best of the Bot

    Then there’s the fact that other tech companies, including Google and Facebook, are gathering and selling the same data being used to justify TikTok’s banning. Also, it’s not like TikTok is the only online channel that can be used to influence people. Russia made a concerted, years-long effort to interfere with the 2016 and 2020 elections via Facebook and the platform formerly known as Twitter. Why are we taking action against TikTok’s potential threat and none to prevent future occurrences of interference that really happened? 

    The bottom line for marketers. TikTok parent ByteDance is already suing to prevent the law from going into effect. It will likely be a long, protracted legal fight, so there’s no need to change your media plans any time soon.

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    The post What marketers need to know about the TikTok ban appeared first on MarTech.

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