Will TikTok be banned in the United States for the majority of the population by the end of 2024?
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Dec 31
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This question is about the legislation impacting consumers before the end of 2024 (for the majority of Americans).

  • If TikTok is banned for the majority of Americans before the end of 2024 and some people were still accessing TikTok illegally in the US after the ban came into place then the market would resolve YES

  • If a bill is signed into law but is not yet impacting consumers (i.e. because it is held up in court) that would not count towards a YES because the ban would not yet be impacting consumers

  • If TikTok is banned in a way that impacted the majority of Americans before the end of 2024, then the market would resolve as a YES (even if TikTok was later re-instated)

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Same comment as on similar markets: The bill currently working through congress would only ban the app after a year. Court challenges could delay this. It seems unlikely to me that a different bill would supersede this one, or that Biden would ban by executive order while legislation was pending. I think this is a NO.

Forced sale?

What looks like it's happening is that Congress critters are making bills that say they're banning TikTok, but don't really.

If a bill passes called the "TikTok is super banned, for serious" bill, and it doesn't ban TikTok, because over 50% of people can still legally download it and use it, would this market resolve yes or no?

predicts NO

@NickAllen I see your point, but I think your opinion about what counts as a ban is in the minority. The Montana bill says that it's illegal for the app to be offered for download by any "mobile application store." Like it or not, that's what most people mean when they say, "ban TikTok."

There are many parallel examples. It is widely accepted that trans fats are banned in NYC restaurants, although technically you CAN use them below a certain concentration in oils, and technically you could add trans fats to food after the cooking process, etc., etc.

When people say they are banned on Twitter, they could of course go back on the site pseudonymously. Arguably, then, nobody has ever been banned on any website since you always have that option.

So I think "it's illegal and all feasible loopholes have been effectively closed" is a potential definition of "ban," but so is "the easy, regular ways of accessing it are illegal," and that latter definition is the one that most people use.

Of course it's ultimately up to the market creator. Perhaps he could clarify.

predicts NO

@akrasiac we definitely need clarification. F-droid isn't illegal to use; it's just not included on stock phones, generally. If someone can download f-droid (legally) then download TikTok (legally), or just go to a website and download TikTok directly, legally, then that's not a ban in any meaningful sense.

predicts YES

@johnleoks It begins.

predicts NO

@johnleoks "The legislation makes it illegal for app stores to offer TikTok. It does not, however, forbid those who already have TikTok from using it."

That's not a ban in any meaningful sense.

predicts NO

@johnleoks All it's going to do is teach a few million people about f-droid.

predicts YES

@NickAllen From my understanding, the market isn't about whether people will circumvent the TikTok ban by going through 3rd party open source app stores. It's simply about whether legislation to ban TikTok will be enacted in a majority of states. If @DavidLawrence could clarify, that would be appreciated because if the criteria for a YES resolve for this market includes literally restricting people from accessing TikTok point blank period, even banning TikTok from non-mainstream platforms, I would say that is a too high of a bar for this market to ever resolve YES and there would be no reason to even bet YES.

To clarify - this question is about the legislation impacting consumers before the end of 2024 (for the majority of Americans). People accessing TikTok illegally after the ban comes into place would not prevent the market resolving as YES. For example, I consider India to have banned TikTok for the majority of the population since June 2020, even though I suspect some niche workarounds exist.

predicts YES

@DavidLawrence Thanks for the response. Might want to add this to the market description so people won't have to scroll down to the comments to seek clarification.

sold Ṁ17 of NO

@DavidLawrence Do you consider the Montana bill a ban?

By the way, it hasn’t been signed into law yet and may end up being unconstitutional like other similar bans. Would a ban affecting the majority of the population count toward a YES resolution even if it’s held up in court?

predicts NO

@DavidLawrence if the majority of people in the United States can still access TikTok legally and still use it legally, do you consider that a ban? Because in the case of this bill, the people of Montana could still access it legally and use it legally. If that's a ban, then I'm not sure what the word means.

predicts NO

@johnleoks all this bill does is restrict the most common app distribution networks from carrying this software. Even that is probably unconstitutional.

If it's banned and then unbanned how would this market resolve

In this case the market would still resolve as YES

bought Ṁ10 of NO

There's no mechanism or law that allows for this to happen. The most that is possible would be an executive order banning it in federal installations, plus removal from major app stores, but that's not a ban for over 50%.

bought Ṁ150 of YES

@NickAllen the U.S. Congress has the constitutional right to create new law

predicts NO

@MP Yes, as you may be aware the Constitution also imposes some restrictions on the right to create new laws. I don't know, but assume that Nick Allen's point is that a ban of the TikTok web service in the entire US would not be consistent with prevailing interpretations of the limits of US legislative power.

predicts YES

@akrasiac comm'on, it's basic unfair trade. Meta can't work in china, ByteDance shouldn't be allowed in the US

predicts YES

@MP The argument here isn’t about fairness, it’s about whether Congress is legally allowed to do this without a constitutional amendment. China doesn’t have legally protected freedom of speech, so they are allowed to limit speech.

Of course, I think it’s likely that the Supreme Court would be willing to rule against this being a freedom of speech violation because of national security concerns, but it’s not a given.

predicts YES

@Gabrielle what China freedom of speech has to do? There is this important sector of the economy, social media, where american companies aren't allowed to compete in china because they're americans. It's plain basic reciprocity

predicts YES

@MP If the Supreme Court decides that the US has to allow Chinese social media companies to run in the US because it would be inhibiting their freedom of speech, Congress would legally need to pass a constitutional amendment to ban TikTok. That’s possibly a big if, but it might happen.

In China, they don’t have the same freedom of speech (or checks and balances), so their government can ban American social media platforms.

If the Supreme Court rules that way, then maybe abolishing freedom of speech so we can match China is the right path, or maybe not. (I’m intentionally not stating a stance here, though I do have one.) But that would be the path that legally must be taken, regardless of any feelings of fairness. That’s how a legal system of checks and balances works.

predicts YES

@Gabrielle If McDonald's were prohibited from working in china, but a big fast food chain from china were allowed in the US, do you think the Congress could pass a law saying "Fast food chains from countries our fast food chains can't compete, can't exist in the US"?

predicts YES

@MP It is my understanding that the US Supreme Court would block a law like that, unless the government's lawyers could prove that it's a national security threat, which is a high bar (basically only stuff that is directly related to the military). Reciprocity would not be an argument that they would consider.

predicts YES

@Gabrielle what about tariffs? What if they put 100% tariffs on TikTok? Or the U.S. congress also isn't allowed to create tariffs on imported goods and services?

predicts YES

@MP That sounds like something they could probably do, though I’m not as familiar with the case history around tariffs. That probably would not make this resolve YES though, depending how Bytedance’s reaction.

predicts YES

@Gabrielle oh sure, a 100% tariff seems like a cynical way to ban, but definitely not a ban, agrees

bought Ṁ10 of NO

@MP Even if the trade war keeps accelerating (which appears likely) there's no mechanism to ban an app, even reciprocally, and there's plenty of laws (including constitutional ones) preventing that sort of ban.

Re: 100% tariff, there's no charge for downloading tiktok, so 100% of 0 is.... 0.

Banning Bytedance (SP?) from doing business in the US might do it, but even then they could just release TikTok open source on F-droid and, presto, the app isn't banned.

I'll reiterate my first point. There is no mechanism I'm aware of for this to legally resolve "yes".

predicts NO

@MP I'm no legal scholar, but it doesn't make any sense to me to say that a website is an import. In what sense is TikTok coming "into" the United States? If it's being imported into the US, then that seems to imply that all websites are simultaneously being imported and exported into every country, which is either false or meaningless. Does that mean any international phone call is also an import? I don't think the Supreme Court would agree that the USG can ban international phone calls.

predicts YES

@MP Here's an article from the NYT discussing how it's likely going to run into first amendment challenges: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/24/opinion/tiktok-ban-first-amendment.html

Six years ago, in Packingham v. North Carolina, the Supreme Court struck down a law that prohibited convicted sex offenders from using social media, reasoning that these websites had become “integral to the fabric of our modern society and culture.”

A half century before that, the Supreme Court decided a series of cases recognizing that the First Amendment protects not only the right to speak but also the right to receive information, including the right to receive information and ideas from abroad. In one of those cases, Lamont v. Postmaster General, the court invalidated a federal law that barred Americans from receiving “communist political propaganda” from foreign countries unless they specifically asked the Postal Service to deliver it. The court held that the law was an impermissible attempt “to control the flow of ideas to the public.”
...
The Supreme Court and lower courts have held repeatedly that the mere invocation of national security is insufficient to justify the suppression of First Amendment rights. In court, the government will have to introduce evidence that the threats it is addressing are real, not merely conjectural, and that the proposed ban would address those threats. The evidence assembled so far is not likely to be sufficient.

predicts NO

@MP what about all those parts of the constitution that begin "Congress shall make no law ...."?