President Biden Signs Law to Ban TikTok, App Parent Company Sues

On Wednesday, April 24, 2024, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law that’s been dubbed a “TikTok ban.” Specifically, the bill mandates that ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, has nine months to sell it or the video social media app will cease operations in the United States.

The bill, originally passed in the U.S. House as H.R.7521 – Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, was folded into a larger legislative package for passage in the Senate and the President’s desk. The name of the bill refers to long-standing allegations that ByteDance (based in China) uses TikTok as a spyware on behalf of the Chinese government. In May 2023, Montana passed a statewide law banning TikTok, with Governor Greg Gianforte using the spyware claims and a need to “protect Montanans’ personal and private data” as public justification.

The divestment/ban will assuredly not go into effect until later than the current nine month deadline. ByteDance has said it will not sell TikTok and is instead challenging the U.S. government in court over the legality of the ban, claiming it violates users’ rights to freedom of expression under the First Amendment.

Indeed, Montana’s TikTok ban was blocked by a federal judge before it went into effect, who wrote the legislation “overstep(ped) state power.”

In the meantime, TikTok has become one of many tools in a REALTOR®’s kit for lead generation and connecting with clients. The app’s bite-sized video (and comedy-oriented) format makes it an easy way to connect with clients without any hint of dryness. 

Skyler Lemons, a Chicago REALTOR® with Exit Strategy Realty, tells RISMedia about how he’s used TikTok and why the ban would be “detrimental to (his) business.”

“TikTok has been a huge tool for lead generation in my business and it really has given a lot of brands a platform to experience rapid growth…It seems that the users on TikTok are more loyal and more committed to you than on other platforms,” says Lemons. “TikTok is a platform that allowed me to experience rapid growth in real estate Without TikTok there will definitely be a reduction in visibility for my business.”

Randy Baruh, a New York City broker with Compass who has built a following on TikTok, shared this response with RISMedia.

“TikTok has been a major asset to my business, allowing me to showcase properties in a creative, engaging way and connect with potential buyers and sellers. Agents who have relied solely on TikTok for advertising homes may find themselves scrambling to establish credibility on alternative platforms if they haven’t prepared a backup plan. This could result in a temporary decrease in viewership as they navigate the transition.

“However, I’ve been actively preparing for this possibility. I’ve been directing my TikTok followers to follow me on Instagram, where I have a large following as well. Additionally, I’m building a following on YouTube, which allows me to share more in-depth content about real estate and properties.

“Losing TikTok would mean shifting my focus to these other platforms to maintain my online presence and continue reaching my audience. In this industry, being flexible and open to new opportunities is key. Real estate is always evolving, and while a TikTok ban would be a big change, it’s also a chance to pivot and find new ways to innovate and connect with clients.”

Lemons adds that to prepare for the possibility of this ban becoming a firm reality, he has been shoring up his skills and practice with other social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. Casting a wide net with your marketing is rarely a bad idea. 

This is a developing story, follow RISMedia for updates.

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