Is TikTok getting banned in the US? Here's why people are worried about the app

Users are concerned: is TikTok getting banned in the US? In a sense, it already has.

Is TikTok getting banned? Pictured: Cellphone on colorful background with TikTok logo
(Image credit: Anna Blazhuk/Getty Images)

Is TikTok getting banned in the United States? The likes of the Korean blush nail trend and "Lucky Girl" syndrome appear innocent enough, so why is the app being heavily scrutinized? 

As the video-sharing platform continues to rise in popularity with viral tutorials and relatable challenges (and plenty of questionable ones, too), politics and security seem to threaten its fate in certain locations. Here's what's going on.

Is TikTok getting banned in the US?

In a sense, TikTok usage has already been censored in the United States. 

In December 2022, Congress banned TikTok from federal government devices, which seemed the standard for those in an official position. According to NPR (opens in new tab), there were concerns about tracking within the app, a feature that can even be accessed with something as simple as a weather app.

Then we have of the app's most prominent users—Gen Z—who have experienced issues logging on to check out what's happening on their FYPs. Colleges such as the University of Texas at Austin, Auburn University and Oklahoma State University, to name a just few, have blocked the app from internet access on their campuses in 2023.

Some national security experts expressed concerns about the app because China businesses are typically required to give the government easy to access to whatever information it requests. Could that possibly mean TikTok's parent company, the Chinese-based ByteDance, has the power to spy on Americans through algorithms? Considering the app had to pay $92 million to settle lawsuits that alleged US users' information was stolen, it's definitely not out of the realm of possibilities. 

Meanwhile, the Project Texas initiative is now working across party lines to rebuild the app on US servers and remove its affiliation with ByteDance. Per BuzzFeed News (opens in new tab), this is even an effort that's being considered in Europe. 

Let's not forget back in 2020, then-president Donald Trump attempted to ban TikTok if it wasn't sold to an American company, but his proposed plans did not come to fruition, as he left office several months later.

While the viral (and NSFW) mascara trend is taking over as the Vanilla Girl Aesthetic look continues to pop up across feeds, people wonder if their time on the app is limited. Should we say goodbye to those funny dances and our favorite #BookTok recs?

How will the TikTok ban affect me?

Although it's not certain whether or not TikTok will be outright banned in the US—and if it is truly causing the threat to the US that some insist—people are definitely curious about one of their favorite forms of entertainment. If it did get banned, per Vox (opens in new tab), using the app in the US would be illegal, which could lead to discussions about our First Amendment rights. 

It's interesting to think that a platform with the likes of our beloved Noodles the Pug and fun dances could cause so much turmoil, but with 80 million monthly active users perusing videos, we have a feeling the ban debate will not come without challenges.

Danielle Valente

Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, covering all-things news, lifestyle and entertainment. 

The heart of her time at Future has been devoted to My Imperfect Life, where she's been attuned to the cosmos, new TV shows and relationship trends.  

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, amNewYork and Newsday, among other outlets. 

When Danielle is not working, you can usually find her reading a book, coffee at hand, or attempting a new recipe. (Recommendations always welcome!)