Montana bans TikTok

Montanans who love to “floss,” “griddy,” or whatever other dance trends are popping off on TikTok these days, will soon have to move to a different state to do so. 

Driving the news: In a serious escalation in efforts to crack down on TikTok in the US, app stores will be barred from offering TikTok to residents of the Big Sky state as of January. 

Why it matters: Montana (population 1.12 million) isn’t a big market for TikTok, but it’s the first state actually trying to ban the app. The move will likely set up an important court test to determine whether other states can implement similar bans.

  • TikTok is already laying the foundation to challenge the law, saying that it violates free speech rights. 

Why it’s happening: Western officials are increasingly worried about the potential risks TikTok could pose to national security, including the possibility that it gives the Chinese government a way to collect data on its users.

  • A former ByteDance exec added to those concerns this week by alleging TikTok’s code gave Chinese officials “backdoor access” to its data and algorithm.

  • TikTok denies these claims and says that Chinese authorities can’t access user data from Western countries.

What’s next: Don’t be surprised if other states follow in Montana’s footsteps, as a growing number of politicians (from both sides of the aisle) see picking a fight with TikTok as a PR win.—TS