TikTok Says Even a Temporary Ban Would Kill 90% of Its Userbase

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Photo Credit: Kon Karampelas

In a declaration filed as part of ByteDance’s ongoing effort to halt the quick-approaching stateside freeze on new TikTok downloads, top executive Vanessa Pappas indicated that even a temporary ban of the app would result in the loss of potentially 90 percent of U.S. daily users.

Digital Music News obtained an exclusive copy of the corresponding legal document, which was recently submitted to a federal court in Washington, D.C. The Department of Commerce announced last week that TikTok would become unavailable to download (domestically) beginning this Sunday, September 27th. As such, TikTok and its Beijing-based parent company promptly moved to secure an emergency injunction preventing the shutdown.

TikTok head (and interim global exec) Vanessa Pappas, who assumed the roles after former CEO Kevin Mayer’s late-August departure, opened the nine-page-long declaration by highlighting her professional duties and TikTok’s basic business model. Predictably, in an attempt to dismiss longstanding TikTok security concerns and demonstrate the app’s independence, Pappas described ByteDance as “a global company incorporated in the Cayman Islands with offices in the United States, China, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, among other locations.” The multibillion-dollar tech conglomerate’s headquarters are located in Beijing, China, however.

The former Google and Microsoft higher-up then recapped the considerable popularity and growth of TikTok, encompassing approximately 100 million monthly active users (MAUs) in America and roughly 700 million users around the globe.

Per Pappas, making the video-sharing app unavailable for download would dramatically inhibit this upward trajectory, which touched “424,000 new daily U.S. users each day” prior to July’s start.

Next, Pappas noted the substantial usership falloff that arrived after TikTok’s two-week ban in India (not the full-scale ban that went into effect earlier this year). Running with these stats, the TikTok head specified that a 40-50 percent decrease in daily users could follow a two-month U.S. ban, whereas a six-month domestic ban may prompt 80-90 percent of America’s daily users to jump ship.

The text also emphasized the short-form video-sharing app’s amplified competition, including from Triller and Reels. Both would likely enjoy huge gains in the event that TikTok is banned.

Lastly, the detail-oriented declaration covered the potential impact that a U.S. TikTok ban might have abroad (“U.S. content can comprise as much as 60% of the content in TikTok ’s non-U.S. markets”), on relationships with sponsors and creators, and, most pressingly, in terms of total users.

ByteDance submitted an export-permit application to the Chinese government yesterday, to abide by the state’s recently implemented laws concerning the transfer of IP (TikTok’s proprietary algorithms among them). The sale of TikTok to Oracle and Walmart appears to hinge on the application’s approval, though regulatory officials hadn’t granted or denied the request at the time of this writing.