Remember all that talk about TikTok getting banned? Well, there’s been a development. 

This week—on Wednesday, March 13—the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that could lead to a nationwide ban against TikTok. 

The House vote was 352 to 65, with 50 Democrats and 15 Republicans voting against the bill. 

While its fate in the Senate remains uncertain, President Joe Biden has said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk. 

Lawmakers supporting the bill see TikTok’s ownership by Chinese parent company, ByteDance, as a national security threat. Meanwhile, a former supporter of the TikTok ban, Donald Trump, has spoken up in opposition.

Here’s what we know so far. 

The U.S. House has passed a bill that could ban TikTok

In a rare bipartisan move, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 352 to 65 in support of a bill that could lead to a nationwide ban on TikTok. 

Fifty Democrats and 15 Republicans voted in opposition to the bill. But the overwhelming vote in support has now pushed the bill out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. And President Biden has already announced his intention to sign the bill if it passes the Senate. 

That could be a big “if.” 

At the moment, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer remains uncommitted to the bill’s next steps, saying only that the chamber will review the legislation. 

Some in the Senate, including Sen. Rand Paul, have expressed a concern that the bill could violate Americans’ constitutional right to free speech. And Senate Democrats are feeling pressure from their younger constituents, many of whom prefer TikTok over other social media platforms. 

Former president Donald Trump, who previously supported a TikTok ban, has reconsidered and announced his opposition. 

Legislators in support of the bill argue that TikTok’s ownership by Chinese parent company ByteDance presents a national security threat, since China’s government can require the company to turn over data from TikTok users in the U.S.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (a Virginia Democrat) and the panel’s top Republican, Marco Rubio of Florida, urged support for the bill, given the strong bipartisan support shown in Wednesday’s vote. 

Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell, chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, wants to expand on the bill’s aim and create a durable process that could apply to any foreign entities—beyond TikTok—that could pose national security risks. 

What would this mean for real estate agents?

If it passes both houses and is signed into law, the bill would give ByteDance five months to sell TikTok, essentially severing the app’s ties with China. 

But the highly-concentrated market for social media services could make it challenging for TikTok to avoid antitrust violations and find a buyer U.S. competition regulators would accept

If ByteDance doesn’t sell TikTok within that five-month window, U.S. app stores such as Apple and Google will be prohibited from making the app available for download. 

In that case, many of the roughly 170 million American TikTok users would likely switch to Meta apps Instagram and Facebook, as well as YouTube and Snapchat, taking their followers and ad spend with them. 

So, while a TikTok ban would benefit U.S.-based Meta and Alphabet, it would deal a painful blow to creators who’ve made TikTok their primary channel, especially those who haven’t created a platform of their own. 

At BAM, we’ve shared content from brilliant creators in the real estate industry who have created huge audiences on TikTok. But knowing the risks of building their entire online presence on a platform outside their control, they haven’t stopped there. 

The most vulnerable real estate content creators on TikTok—and any other social media channel—are those without an email list. 

TikTok’s response & other voices in opposition

TikTok leadership is calling the bill an attack on the constitutional right to freedom of expression. 

A spokesperson for TikTok told the Wall Street Journal, “It’s a ban based on zero evidence.” 

Since 2019, according to nonprofit research group OpenSecrets, TikTok has spent more than $21 million lobbying to fight a ban.   

China’s foreign ministry also opposes the legislation, calling it an “act of bullying.”

This kind of bullying behaviour that cannot win in fair competition disrupts companies’ normal business activity, damages the confidence of international investors in the investment environment, and damages the normal international economic and trade order.

In the end, this will inevitably come back to bite the United States itself. 

Wang Wenbin

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson

In a video posted on X (Twitter), TikTok CEO Shou Chew said the company has invested in keeping user “data safe and our platform free from outside manipulation.”

This bill gives more power to a handful of other social media companies. It will also take billions of dollars out of the pockets of creators and small businesses. It will put more than 300,000 American jobs at risk. And it will take away your TikTok… 

Our platform matters to the small business owners who rely on TikTok to make ends meet, to the teachers who inspire millions of students to learn, and to everyone who discovers and finds joy on TikTok.

Shou Chew

TikTok CEO

Stay tuned as we learn more about the bill’s progress.