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TikTok ban will be a gift from Congress to Meta and Google

TikTok ban will be a gift from Congress to Meta and Google


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The prospect of a TikTok ban has been floating around for years, but it's closer to reality than ever before. The Senate passed a bill Tuesday night aimed at forcing the sale or ban of apps as part of a broader foreign aid package. President Biden signed the bill on Wednesday. TikTok will likely challenge it in court.

A sale would be possible if the law stands up in court, but China has indicated it intends to block such a move. The alternative is a ban that would reduce TikToks' presence in the United States.

While the bill's stated purpose is to protect Americans from Chinese spying and influence through popular social media apps, there is another group that would benefit. It's an American tech company struggling to compete with TikTok. These include Meta, Google, and to a lesser extent Snap and Amazon.

For Meta in particular, this bill has the potential to accomplish what Mark Zuckerberg and his company failed to do: neutralize the biggest and most stubborn competitor they've ever faced.

Since toppling Myspace 15 years ago, Meta (formerly Facebook) has solidified its position in social media through a strategy that includes shrewd acquisitions, copycat products, and strategic shifts. It acquired Instagram and WhatsApp, neutralized Snapchat by copying its signature Stories feature, and recently launched Threads to take on X.

But this playbook didn't work for TikTok. Facebook reportedly tried to buy its predecessor, Chinese lip-syncing app, in 2016, but ByteDance ended up buying it. So in 2020, Facebook launched Reels, a short video app with almost the same format and content as TikTok. Reels has been steadily growing thanks to its aggressive integration with Instagram, while TikTok has maintained its support among teens while also making inroads with adults.

In 2022, after Metas' flagship Facebook app lost users for the first time, the company overhauled it to make it more like TikTok.

Facebook, which is struggling to fend off TikTok in the market, has tried another tack: demonizing TikTok.

Zuckerberg took aim at TikTok in a speech he gave at Georgetown University in 2019. Our services like WhatsApp are used by protesters and activists everywhere due to their strong encryption and privacy protections, but TikTok, the Chinese app that is growing rapidly around the world, is also used by protesters and activists in the United States. References to are censored, he said. Is that the internet we want?

In 2022, the Washington Post reported that Facebook was secretly paying Target Victory, a major Republican consulting firm, to promote local news articles and editorials depicting TikTok as a danger to children and society. This included articles about dangerous viral trends on TikTok, many of which were found to be exaggerated or even spread on Facebook. Still, the story caught the attention of lawmakers and was brought up in a Congressional hearing.

And last year, when the Federal Trade Commission announced plans to bar Meta from monetizing the personal data of minors, the company decided to allow Chinese companies like TikTok to operate without restriction in the continental United States. accused of being

To be fair, there may be legitimate concerns about TikTok, many of which The Post has reported on over the years. Still, Metas' intimidation tactics against rivals were unusual in Silicon Valley, where companies typically seek to crush each other in business rather than politics.

It is unclear whether these tactics played a role in rallying support for the ban. The company has not publicly announced the bill that was passed Tuesday night, but Meta spokesman Andy Stone said Tuesday that the company is not lobbying on the bill.

But Meta is poised to reap the rewards even if TikTok disappears. And that's not the only thing that benefits.

A few months after Meta launched Reels, Google's YouTube debuted its own short-form video feature, YouTube Shorts. Google isn't pursuing TikTok like Meta, but it's also not defending the company. And if TikTok were to go out of business, it could make almost as much money as Meta.

Industry analyst eMarketer predicts that Meta could capture an estimated 22.5 to 27.5 percent of TikTok's U.S. ad revenue, driving the company's revenue by more than $2 billion in 2025. Google expects him to earn around 15-20%.

Jasmine Engberg, principal social media analyst at eMarketers, said most TikTok users will migrate to Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. Neither is a perfect replacement for TikTok, but it is the most natural fit for both users and advertisers looking for a short video alternative.

This is what happened when India banned TikTok.

After TikTok was banned in India, creators moved to Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, said Bhaskar Chakravorty, dean of global business at Tufts University's Fletcher School. Of course, the audience had to be rebuilt and some of TikTok's appealing features were lost, but life moved on. Meta and Google benefited because their products served as sufficient alternatives. Expect the same to happen in the US, until a smart disruptive entrant emerges.

Emarketer Enberg said several other U.S. tech companies could also benefit. Snapchat's short video feature, Spotlight, has not caught on, but it has become a strong competitor for the attention of teenagers. And the e-commerce giant says Amazon could breathe a sigh of relief if her TikTok Shop disappears, as it struggles to adapt to unexpected social shopping trends. she added.

Damian Rolison, director of market insights at marketing platform SOCi, said online search and businesses that rely on online search for advertising could also be affected. He said the company's analysis found that TikTok and Instagram have recently surpassed Google as the go-to sites for young people looking for business online.

The shocking revelation that the U.S. government has launched its first major legal crackdown on social media, after years of intense Congressional scrutiny and hype targeting tech giants, essentially means that the nation's largest It's a gift to tech companies.

Ironically, the move comes at the same time the Biden administration is suing Meta, Google, Amazon, and Apple for monopolizing their respective markets. Meta, in particular, has defended itself by pointing out that it faces competition from TikTok.

Evan Greer, director of the nonprofit Fight for the Future, said Congress' efforts could have been better directed at privacy and antitrust laws, rather than legislation targeting a single company. claim.

Banning TikTok without passing actual technology regulations would only further entrench monopolies like Meta and Google without doing anything to protect Americans from data collection and government propaganda, Greer said. he said.




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