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M'sian content creators react to proposed US TikTok ban

Publish date: Sat, 15 Jun 2024, 09:00 AM

PETALING JAYA: Some local influencers are concerned that a United States' ban on the video app TikTok may affect their reach on the social media platform and even the diversity of their content.

Others, however, are dismissive of any impact from such a ban, which is expected to come into effect next year.

Malaysia-based beauty influencer Zuleika Gomez, who goes by her handle @vogueunicorn_ on TikTok, said a ban in the US may affect her reach as a creator.

"My content is more diverse and open to all audiences, rather than just catering to Malaysians.

"It really sets your views much lower, whatever your demographic is. I realised that a lot of the content was not getting out.

“You just don't hit it big time. It's come to a point where, okay, you are great, but only in this area,” said Gomez in an interview. 

Lawmakers in the US have called for a law that bans TikTok unless its parent company ByteDance agrees to sell the app to a non-Chinese company.

Both the US House of Representatives and Senate have approved a foreign aid package that also includes a bill paving the way for the forced sale of TikTok.

Signed into law by US President Joe Biden, the bill gives ByteDance nine months to sell TikTok to a new buyer, with an additional three-month grace period.

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This means the sale deadline would most likely come sometime in 2025 after the US presidential elections at the end of this year, according to the BBC.

ByteDance has vowed to challenge the law in court.

In India, which was TikTok's biggest market before it was banned four years ago, not all content creators were able to build back a significant following on other platforms.

Influencer Sabrina Azhar, who has 1.9 million followers on her @jpbrinx TikTok account, said she does expect a drop in content.

"I expect a drop in content due to my audiences, which are mostly based in Malaysia and South Korea, but competition too, as it may reduce English-speaking creators circulating on the FYP (For You Page).

“I feel like honestly a lot of the trends originate from the US, so I do feel like it might get a bit more boring,” Sabrina said. 

Fortunately for Sabrina, marketing from local brands in Malaysia is just starting to get on TikTok.

“So, I don't think it will affect any brand sponsorships anytime soon. For the Korean market, a lot of the brands are more focused on YouTube.”

This is even more true for American influencer Lilith, who only wants to go by a single name.

Lilith, who posts under @lilithinkl, believes that such a ban could stifle the narrative on TikTok where people easily connect and share previously hidden knowledge.

“It also limits people's access to each other,” she pointed out.

As an international content creator in Malaysia, Lilith, who has garnered more than 127,800 followers on TikTok, said the possibility of a ban could hinder growth for new creators. 

“It’s much easier for content creators to grow on TikTok compared to other platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube,” said the food blogger.

Comedian Moses Wong, who goes by @moseswck on TikTok, said there is likely to be little impact on his 2.1 million followers.

He is, however, worried about potentially losing the platform as both a user and creator.  

Wong is more concerned that the ban could lead to TikTok in each country becoming more compliant with local laws and “restricting freedom of speech”.

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