Keri Williams' business would not exist without TikTok. About two years ago, she opened The Branded Pinto - her custom hat store - after a TikTok video of one of the creations she shared 'blew up.' Almost all of her sales still come from TikTok.
Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill earlier this week banning TikTok in the state. Greg Gianforte has signed a law that bans TikTok within the state. Williams, who lives in Billings, Montana, the state's biggest city, is now scrambling to determine what will become of her business.
She told CNN that she was trying to convince people to use Instagram, in case of a disaster, such as people being unable to access her TikTok.
In the last year, Washington lawmakers have intensified their scrutiny of TikTok. A growing number of Congressmen are calling for a ban on the short-form app because of concerns over its ties with China via its parent company ByteDance.
Montana, the first US State to ban the app completely with a bill signed this week has thrown residents into an uncertain future that could spread across the nation if other states or the federal governments take similar actions.
A group of TikTok members who claim that the law violates their First Amendment rights have already filed a lawsuit against it. Experts in law and technology have raised concerns about the possible enforcement of this law. Some residents are still preparing for the consequences.
Christian W. Poole told CNN that a new ban would be a'real kick in the face'. He calls himself 'Unofficial ambassador for the State of Montana.'
Poole's comedy videos, which are mainly Montana-themed, have attracted a fan base of over 400,000. Poole says he earns a 'good amount' of money from TikTok but does it for 'fun' and to meet new people.
He said that it would be a shame if he lost the friendships he had made in the last four years and the content he created for his fellow Montanans.
It has taken months, if no years, to push for action against TikTok. The criticism of TikTok grew last year, after a BuzzFeed News article claimed that some US user data was repeatedly accessed by China. It cited an employee who said: 'Everything's seen in China.
TikTok confirmed later that certain US user data could be accessed in China by some employees, but has denied repeatedly that the Chinese government had asked for their user data.
TikTok has been scrutinized in Washington, as have other social media platforms. They are concerned about its possible negative impact on its young users, as well as the possibility that its algorithm may expose them to potentially harmful content, such as posts relating to eating disorders and suicide.
The app's audience seems to be growing. TikTok announced in March that the app has 150 millions monthly active users in America, up from the 100 million users it had in 2020 when the Trump Administration first threatened to ban this service.
TikTok is a vital tool for connecting with others and reaching customers. These users are frustrated by their local legislators.
Williams, after hearing about the ban, said that they thought China would come and steal our information. Williams said that the ban was affecting some people's livelihoods and that they were acting haphazardly, without any plans or enforcement.
Williams stated that he saw a group of old men who had no clue what TikTok was. Williams said, 'My biggest concern is that after spending a lot of money on my hat making stuff, I will have no customers.
Taylor Reed of Kalispell in Montana told CNN that TikTok helped him launch his painting business during the pandemic. He claimed to have taught himself TikTok by reading 60 books about marketing small businesses.
He said that TikTok allowed him to be more aggressive with his advertising budget. It opened up many doors in our company. He added that sponsorship deals were made with companies like Benjamin Moore.
Reed is skeptical about the law's implementation and believes that the privacy concerns raised by lawmakers are not unique to TikTok. However, he said that its signing this week was a good reminder to diversify to other platforms.
He says he can't find the same audience on other channels, such as Facebook's Reels. And he also has trouble editing videos without TikTok app's features. So he'll likely hire an outside videographer.
Reed has said that he'll continue to use TikTok "for as long we can." He said that 'we are definitely going to push out into other platforms. We won't pigeonhole us into this platform.