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TikTok creators worried ban would impact business

TikTok creators worried ban would impact business
TikTok creators worried ban would impact business 02:23

BOSTON - Congressional lawmakers grilled TikTok's CEO amid growing calls to ban the social media app in the US. 

"I think the impact would be intense," said lifestyle content creator, A.J. Hernandez. "TikTok is the social media moment right now." 

For Hernandez (@AJHisnandez), TikTok is more than just a fun way to pass time. It's his side hustle and an outlet for him to express himself. 

"Without that, it would certainly feel like they're being stifled and have nowhere else to go," said Hernandez. 

With 1.2 million followers, Tommy Guarino (@TommyGuarino) has become so-called "TikTok famous," at least here in Massachusetts. He relies on the apps and users scrolling to secure brand deals and sponsorships. 

"I don't think it's necessarily the right thing to do to take this away from people and creators who have built full time lives off of this space," he told WBZ from his East Boston apartment. "Then again, I want to confirm that I'm not fully educated on the situation." 

With 2.8 million users in Massachusetts, House lawmakers are concerned with TikTok and its parent company's ties to China. 

"Has ByteDance spied on Americans," asked Congressman Neal Dunn (R-Florida) during the congressional hearing

"I don't think that spying is the right way to describe it," replied TikTok's CEO Shou Chew. 

But the app's power is undeniable. Some businesses profit off TikTok indirectly, like Hunter's Kitchen & Bar. 

Social media, hunter's kitchen, mac and cheese
A.J. Hernandez makes a TikTok video of the mac and cheese at Hunter's Kitchen & Bar CBS Boston

"Every time the mac and cheese is posted, you can see the influx of mac and cheese that comes in the tickets," said Chef Lambert Givens. 

Views and likes translating into customers and orders. 

"It's, it's tough," added Chef Givens. "You're taking away what's actually a part of business." 

One creator argues a ban on TikTok wouldn't be a big deal. There are plenty of platforms, she said, to pivot to and profit from. 

"They're going to find another place to spend their time," said food content creator Marwa Osman (@BostonFoodList). "Something else will pop up in its place." 

Others told WBZ-TV that people's ability to express themselves shouldn't be limited by the government. 

"With freedom of speech, I think that needs to be in the forefront over everything," said Guarino.  

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