These Ontario TikTokers are worried about losing the platform – not their data cafe madrid

Days after the Canadian government banned TikTok from employee devices, some TikTokers in Ontario say they are concerned — not about misuse of their data, they say, but about a potential loss of the app itself.

Several influencers — people with large followings on their TikTok accounts — say they are already very visible in public and are more concerned about the Canadian government banning the app completely from public use.

“I don’t know what information people would want that I’m not already giving,” says Hamilton children’s book author Chris Paul Farias, who goes by chrispaulrainbows on TikTok.

“I wouldn’t want the government to ban a platform per se, but it is their responsibility to educate the public about the privacy issues. [people] can make an informed decision when using the app.”

Chris Paul Farias and their dog Walter.
Chris Paul Farias uses their TikTok account to discuss diversity and inclusion issues, promote their creative branding agency Unicorn Rebellion, and read books like Pride Puppy! by Robin Stevenson. (Submitted by Chris Paul Farias)

Earlier this week, the federal government said it would work with the US and European Union to remove and block the video-sharing platform from all government-issued devices, citing security concerns.

This came after Canada’s federal privacy regulator launched a joint investigation last week with three provincial counterparts into the platform’s collection, use, and disclosure of users’ personal information. The concerns are related to TikTok’s Chinese parent company, Bytedance, and whether it could be forced to share information with the Chinese government.

According to a census-balanced survey conducted last spring, about 26 percent of adults in Canada use TikTok. According to that same 2022 study, seventy-six percent of Canadians aged 18 to 24 had a TikTok account.

As the US Congress debates a bill that would ban TikTok nationwide, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not say whether his administration is considering a similar ban when asked by CBC News Monday.

TikTok main promotional tool, says its creator

Hamilton-based Farias has a TikTok following of over 287,900 people. They say they use the app as a platform as an educational tool about diversity and belonging and as a method to promote their brand agency Unicorn Rebellion. There is no compensation from TikTok itself, they said, so using it as a promotional tool is essential.

“In Canada there is no creator fund, it is very difficult to make money on TikTok,” they said.

TikTok has a creator fund designed to financially compensate content creators for high engagement and views of their videos. But that is only limited to residents of the US, UK, Germany, Italy, France or Spain and not Canadian citizens.

“I’m making money off TikTok — I’ve gotten speaking engagements and connections for work,” Farias said.

Farias said they understand the need for government employees to remove the app from work devices, but are concerned if the app ban spreads to the public it could destroy the community they’ve built and hurt their careers.

One maker for others: diversify your sources of income

Taylor Lindsay-Noel is the owner and CEO of Cup of Té in Toronto. She uses the TikTok handle AccessByTay, with a following of more than 46,500 people, where she posts about disability, business, healthcare, and her own personal journey from a former gymnast to a disabled entrepreneur.

She told CBC Hamilton that she is not concerned about her personal information being misused. She said she was fully aware of the dangers of being a social media public figure when she started her business.

“On a personal level, I’m not necessarily overly concerned about my data being misused, because what are they really getting from people?” asked Lindsay-Noel.

A woman in a motorcycle wheelchair.
Taylor Lindsay-Noel is the owner and CEO of Cup of Té. She said a nationwide TikTok ban would hurt content creators who rely on the app for a source of income. (Submitted by Taylor Lindsay-Noel/Twitter)

She said she understood the need for government employees to stay off the app, but thinks a nationwide ban would be devastating for content creators.

“Many creators rely on TikTok as their only source of income, or people who are full-time content creators rely entirely on the app,” she said.

Lindsay-Noel advises other content creators to diversify their sources of income and distribute their content to other media platforms in case TikTok is banned in the future.

“Because this app can be gone from you in a second and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Summer Badawi, a Hamilton entrepreneur who runs an account to promote her small-scale gourmet chocolate business, said she is “at first glance” not too concerned as the takedown is currently limited.

“If the app is banned more widely I would definitely be concerned because that’s the platform where I have the largest audience and not being able to communicate with Canadians would make growing the business in Canada a little more difficult,” said she.

Badawi’s account, under The DSRT Co., has more than 329,000 followers.

“In terms of data misuse, I think this is a risk to online activity in general. I don’t know if I’m worried about TikTok specifically misusing my data,” she added.



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