The Possibility of a TikTok Ban is real…

Most of you know I fell in love with TikTok a few years ago, and abandoned almost every other social media platform in its favor. I have so much FUN on the clock app. I get more engagement there than on any other platform. A Facebook page is of no use to me if only a fraction of my followers see my posts. I’ve met so many wonderful indie authors and discovered so many amazing books. TikTok allowed me to tap into a long-dormant flare for the dramatic that brought joy back into creating posts.

@mckennadeanfiction #booktok #cozymystery #cozymysteryseries #ginnyreesemysteries #mkdean #cozymysterybooktok ♬ original sound – Josh Patton

Come on! It’s funny! And I love the versatility of the filters to allow me to change my look on a dime, become different characters for silly little skits, and so on. Did I sell many books? Hard to say, though I’ll share one stat with you:

Last year, I did a stacked free promotion of An Embarrassment of Itches (Ginny Reese Mysteries Book 1). A few days before the Big Promotion, word of the free status of the book got out on a Facebook group. I got about 200 downloads. Everyone advised me to push through with announcing the special discount since the cat was already out of the bag. So I sent the word out through my newsletter: another couple hundred downloads. I posted to Facebook, Instagram, and what used to be Twitter: another couple of hundred downloads. I posted to TikTok: THREE THOUSAND DOWNLOADS IN 24 HOURS. The day of the promotion, I got another 4 K downloads. I’d given away free books before, and had not seen nearly the same success. The only difference is sharing about the promo on TikTok. And yes, that was a freebie, but I garnered more than 300 reviews from that free promotion, and many readers went on to get the next books in the series as well.

The proposal to ban TikTok has come up before, and like most users, I tuned into the hearings. Frankly, I was appalled at the lack of courtesy, respect, and basic understanding of the app shown by the members of Congress toward the CEO of TikTok’s parent company. I also felt like the objections Congress had against TikTok applied to ALL social media apps, including Facebook (and yet no one seems to wish to challenge FB on that…). TikTok denies data sharing with the Chinese government. Nothing seemed to come of it, and the furor died down.

I’ll be perfectly honest, when Live Journal moved all its operations to Russia, I refused to sign the new TOS for over a year, and then only agreed to the terms so I could delete my account. I firmly believe our personal thoughts, opinions, and passions have been combed by the Russian government to use against their opponents in widespread disinformation campaigns. I also believe Facebook’s love of the almighty dollar has done irreparable damage to the US political system by allowing the spread of misinformation go unchecked. So I can understand the concerns. Especially when China is one of the largest holders of the US debt, with something like 868 billion out of a 7 trillion debt.

But now the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a rare bi-partisan action, voted unanimously to bring a bill to the House floor that would require ByteDance to sell off TikTok or face a nationwide US ban. This suggests to me there is a perceived (and serious) security risk by both parties.

But is it really? Or is that many of the creators on the app raise uncomfortable questions about Gaza, women’s rights, or any of a dozen or more causes I can name? Twitter used to be such a platform, and what happened? It was bought by Elon Musk and became largely a conservative echo chamber, and another pay-to-play platform, thus silencing voices with the most to lose and the least ability to pay to be heard. 

Maybe I’m just upset because one of the few spaces I enjoy being online has become threatened with extinction, along with my ability as a no-name indie author to get word about my stories out there without spending money I don’t have. Maybe I’m just exhausted by the thought of trying to resurrect engagement on platforms that weren’t servicing me well in the past. Maybe the notion of getting on such platforms during an election year and seeing nothing but negative news and false information makes me want to pull my hair out. Or perhaps I’m sad at the thought of losing touch with the friends I’ve made. It’s no good saying I can do the same in other platforms: I can’t. The tools and engagement simply aren’t there. Not for someone like me, who isn’t young, beautiful, and thin.

So maybe I am defending my favorite platform out of a misguided assessment of any security risks it may pose. Those risks don’t seem any greater than any other SM platform that DOES sell our data and relentlessly pushes tailored ads in our direction. Or maybe I’m horribly wrong, and for the sake of national security, the app really should be banned.

I don’t know.

But I have to say, it’s starting to feel like the time for small creators of all kinds is over. Next up, AI replaces us all.

2 thoughts on “The Possibility of a TikTok Ban is real…

  1. I think you are correct that Facebook and
    TikTok have similar problems. Tons of people are on them, our data are mined by both, and disinformation is spread far and wide on them. But Facebook is ‘Murrican and Zuckerberg has learned how to say “sorry, will try to do better” and then make some minimal changes. I don’t know that Tiktok has tried to do that enough.

    The old geezers in Congress barely know what data mining is, they just know it’s China and somebody said it’s bad. China got my data years ago when they grabbed about 6 million of us from DOD data bases. But you and I are small fish–nobody in China cares about our stuff. Anybody with a high or sensitive government position should probably stay off of TikTok, just in case. I imagine things will stumble along like they have been, with TikTok making some concessions and the government keeping tabs. I think there are just too many users for a ban. But it sure would be nice if they could somehow cut back on the disinformation–from EVERYBODY!

    By the way, it irks me that TikTok insists I have to be a member to see your videos. I don’t need any more media stuff, so I’ve sadly missed all the fun you’ve been having. But I’m happy to see that it has brought you so much enjoyment, and some extra readers as well.

    • Exactly. Too many people in the US have benefited from FB’s disinformation campaigns (and campaign donations) so nothing is done.

      Shoot, I had no idea you had to have a TT account to see the embedded videos. Thanks for letting me know–not much point in sharing them here then! 🙂

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