Montana to become the first US state to ban TikTok

Montana is set to become the first US state to ban the use of TikTok on personal devices. Governor Greg Gianforte signed the ban into state law yesterday. It is due to take effect on 1 January 2024. In a press release, the state said it had made the move “to protect Montanans’ personal, private, and sensitive data and information from intelligence gathering by the Chinese Communist Party”.  

The governor also directed the state’s Chief Information Officer and Executive Agency Directors to prohibit the use of all social media applications tied to foreign adversaries on state equipment and for state business in Montana.

“The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented,” Gov. Gianforte said. “Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party.”

Last month, the governor proposed amendments to the bill to expand the ban to all social media applications that collect and provide users’ personal information or data to a foreign adversary, or a person or entity located within a country designated as a foreign adversary. The legislature could consider the governor’s amendments.

Julie Lock, Marketing Director UK & Ireland at HubSpot, said many marketers and social media managers would be nervous about the ban. “It’s not just the larger businesses that will be concerned,” she said. “Smaller independent cafés, retailers, musicians, influencers and news outlets will be worried about the impact if this is the beginning of a landslide of similar legislation.

“TikTok has an increasing presence in people’s lives and therefore many companies’ marketing and social media strategies. Earlier this year, TikTok reached 850m global users, though 40 per cent of TikTok users aren’t on Facebook, and 63 per cent aren’t on Twitter. That means there’s a huge audience base that without a TikTok presence businesses might miss out on. In fact, more than half (55 per cent) of businesses believe that TikTok has the most potential for growth, compared to just 8 per cent who think Instagram is the way to go.

“Attracting more people to your businesses – and particularly that coveted younger demographic where TikTok engagement is widespread – is crucial to remain stable during a turbulent economy. All eyes will be on where the TikTok audiences in Montana head next, but in the short term it could boost ad dollars spent on video content with rival Instagram.”