The TikTok ban in Montana causes agitation among users and entrepreneurs.

Keri Williams’ business, The Branded Pinto, would not exist without TikTok. Williams, who lives near Billings, Montana’s largest city, launched her custom hat shop about two years ago after a video she shared on TikTok of one of her own creations “exploded.” Almost all of her business still comes from the platform, but earlier this week, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill banning TikTok in the state. This has left Williams and other residents in a new era of uncertainty.

Over the past year, lawmakers in Washington have been scrutinizing TikTok due to concerns over its relationship with China. However, the bill signed this week made Montana the first state to impose a complete ban on the app. A group of TikTok users has filed a lawsuit, claiming it violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Law and technology experts are also raising questions about how the law can be enforced.

Some residents are bracing for fallout as they rely on TikTok to make money and connect with others. For example, Christian W. Poole, who has amassed over 400,000 followers on TikTok by making comedy videos about Montana, is worried about losing all the friends he’s made and the content he’s created.

TikTok has been under heavy scrutiny in Washington due to fears and potential negative impacts on younger users. Algorithms may direct users to potentially harmful subjects, such as posts related to suicide or eating disorders. However, the app’s audience continues to grow. TikTok announced in March that it had 150 million monthly active users in the U.S.

Some users in Montana are not happy with their local legislators. Williams stated, “They just think China is going to come and steal all our information. But it’s the actual livelihood of some people, and they just do it haphazardly with no plan or way to enforce it.”

The banning of TikTok in Montana has also impacted businesses such as The Branded Pinto. Williams is now scrambling to see the future of her business. She is trying to get people on Instagram in case something horrible happens, and she remains uncertain about how the law can be enforced.

However, other businesses such as Reed’s Paintin’ Fools remain optimistic. Reed, who has used TikTok to expand his business, believes that there are concerns about data privacy issues raised by lawmakers that are “not unique to TikTok.” He sees the signing of the bill as “a good wake-up call for diversification to other platforms,” but for now, “We’ll be using TikTok as long as we’re here.”

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