TikTok Blocking in the US: US Stocks Soar
On 28 February 2023, it was reported that the US Senate had approved a bill that would ban the TikTok social network in the US. If the document gains support during the House of Representatives votes, it will be sent to President Joe Biden for his signature.
We will present the situation and explain how the news of the possible blocking of TikTok in the US has affected the stock quotes of American companies whose revenues are in one way or another related to the sale of advertising on social networks.
First attempts to block TikTok
On 6 August 2020, Donald Trump signed an executive order banning two popular Chinese products – TikTok and WeChat – from operating in the US. The former is owned by Beijing ByteDance Technology Co, Ltd, and the latter by Tencent Holdings Limited. The reason for this decision was cited as a threat to national security: it was thought that Chinese authorities could collect personal data on Americans through these well-known social networks.
The decree was to come into force on 20 September 2020, but this date was postponed several times due to legal difficulties and negotiations between representatives of the Chinese corporation and the US government. The parties agreed that the social network would be sold to a US company, with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), Oracle Corporation (NYSE: ORCL), and Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) considered as buyers.
On 19 September 2020, Oracle Corporation and Walmart Inc. announced that they had reached a tentative agreement to acquire 20% of TikTok Global, a new US company to control TikTok's US operations. The remaining 80% stake in the company remained in the hands of Beijing ByteDance Technology Co.
On the same day, a federal court in Washington issued an injunction blocking the Chinese entertainment platform in the US. According to the judge, the US government had exceeded its authority and compromised the interests of legitimate businesses and users. A deal with US corporations failed, and in November 2020, the court exempted the Chinese company from the mandatory sale of assets.
Second attempt to block TikTok
On 9 June 2021, Joe Biden rescinded his predecessor's decree to block TikTok and other Chinese apps in the US but demanded a review of how safe they are for American citizens.
This year, twelve US senators introduced a bill called Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act. It aims to reduce the risks that foreign technology, especially from China, can pose.
The document envisages the possibility of banning or selling technology products that could pose a threat to national security or US citizens' data privacy. According to the senators, TikTok is an example of such a product.
Reaction from US companies
The news that the US government may pass a bill to block TikTok has had a positive effect on the share prices of US companies whose revenue is in some way associated with the sale of advertising on social media. Consequently, Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) stock gained 4.44%, Meta Platforms Inc. (NASDAQ: META) rose 8.83%, and Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP) soared 18.62% from 28 February to 7 March inclusive.
Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok are some of the most popular entertainment platforms in the US. The first two are owned by Meta Platforms Inc, and the third by Alphabet Inc. It can be assumed that the withdrawal of the Chinese product from the US market will allow the other players to expand their audience.
At the end of 2022, Facebook had 236 million users in the US, Snap had 88.5 million, and TikTok had 97.6 million. Last year, advertising revenue from Meta Platforms Inc. reached 113 billion USD, and Snap Inc. 4.6 billion USD.
The US government has made a second attempt to block TikTok from operating in the country, putting foreign websites and apps in a national security context.
The bill has yet to be voted on in the House of Representatives. As it has not been signed by Mr. Biden yet, it is difficult to call the situation unambiguous and definitive. Nevertheless, the stocks of US companies, whose income is associated with the sale of advertising on social networks, have already shown a rise in value.
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