Biden Signs Bill Requiring TikTok Sale or Face U.S. Ban

President Biden has signed legislation that compels TikTok’s parent company to sell its operations in the U.S. or face a ban. The measure is part of a $95 billion package that includes foreign aid for Ukraine and Israel.

Upon signing, TikTok will not vanish immediately from users’ devices. The law grants the parent company, Bytedance, a nine-month window to find a buyer, with a possible three-month extension if a sale is underway. Estimates value TikTok in the U.S. between $50 billion and $100 billion.

Lawmakers have stipulated that the parent company must relinquish control of the algorithm, which drives the platform’s content recommendation system based on user interests. TikTok boasts 170 million users in the U.S. Lawmakers have long worried that Chinese authorities could access user data or manipulate content on the app.

Critics of the bill argue that the Chinese government could access data through other means and assert that the U.S. has not presented evidence that TikTok shares user information with Chinese authorities.

Ken Cadieux, a Natick resident who uses TikTok for his business, expressed concerns about the potential impact. He relies on TikTok to reach his 116,000 followers and promote his healthy eating advice after weight loss surgery. Cadieux’s recipe book sold over 13,000 copies last year, largely due to TikTok.

“TikTok is the nucleus of my business. It’s responsible for my following, my customer list, my orders. TikTok Shop has been a huge partner for me,” said Cadieux. “This would for sure put me out of business. I don’t have the resources to pivot.”

If no buyer is found within nine months and a ban is imposed, TikTok would disappear from app stores like Apple and Google, preventing new downloads. The app would cease to receive updates and fixes, gradually becoming unusable over time. Users may shift to other social media platforms.

Legal challenges are expected against the potential ban, with TikTok itself preparing a lawsuit to block the legislation.