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'It's how we connect': Kansas City-area businesses, influencers react to potential TikTok ban

Cassidy Garr
Posted at 5:32 PM, Mar 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-15 18:32:07-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to pass a bipartisan bill that would force the owners of TikTok to either divest from the popular social media platform, or face an outright ban in the U.S.

The bill criticizes TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, and its ties to the Chinese government.

And while President Joe Biden has said he will sign the bill if it ever reaches his desk, it first must make its way through the Senate.

But for countless Kansas City area businesses, influencers and more, the app is their lifeline.

"TikTok is a really big platform that we do use as a small local business in Kansas City to connect with our guests and our community as whole," said Cassidy Garr, with McLain's Bakery.

Mclain's has been serving Kansas City since 1945. Garr is an integral content creator for McLain's.

"Because of how TikTok's algorithm is set up, it's allowed a lot of our TikTok videos to get hundreds of thousands of views, which is really cool and for us," Garr said. "As a small business, it means we're able to be seen all of over the nation, potentially all over the world."

The concern for lawmakers like Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley with the app is national security.

"I think this is a good step in putting Americans back in control of American media and I'd like to see us do it across the board," he said.

While TikTok is owned by ByteDance, based in China, apps like Instagram and Facebook are owned by Meta, based in the U.S.

Some TikTok users like Keelon Jimison use the app to share their personal influence, too.

"I was broke and had nothing going for myself and nothing to lose," Jimison said. "I put myself into videos, thought I'd do videos everyday and see what I could do with it, I was successful."

For Jimison, other apps will do. But for Cassidy, to use Tik Tok is to connect.

"It is important to have it, but if it was gone, I wouldn't care," Jimison said. "Instagram and Facebook are where it's at for me." “Ninety-nine percent of the trends we carry over to our Instagram reels come from TikTok."