What state banned TikTok and has TikTok been banned in the US? Everything we know

One US state has become the first to completely ban TikTok...

A close up of a phone displaying the TikTok logo
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Montana has become the first US state to ban TikTok, leading many to ask how the ban will work, and where else TikTok is banned in the US. 

TikTok is one of the world’s most popular social networks, with more than 100 million US users. But concerns over the app have been growing - partly due to potential threats to national security, and partly due to the need to help kids stay safe online in the wake of dangerous internet trends such as the blackout challenge.

And while there's no denying that some good has come out of the app - with many independent creators able to make a platform for themselves on TikTok, while others have used it to share hacks and helpful tips such as the looking loudly technique for parents - many US legislators have decided that the app poses too much of a risk. Here's everything you need to know about the TikTok ban...

What state banned TikTok?

Montana became the first US state to completely ban TikTok, after the governor signed legislation prohibiting mobile application stores from offering the app within the state by next year.

The new law is set to take effect on January 1, 2024. After lawmakers passed a bill banning the app on personal devices by 54 to 43 in April, Governor Greg Gianforte signed the ban into law on Wednesday 17 May.

Mr Gianforte, a Republican, said the ban will further "our shared priority to protect Montanans from Chinese Communist Party surveillance."

Meanwhile, TikTok said in a statement that the Montana bill "infringes on the first amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok", and that the company intends to "defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana".

The company said: "We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana."

Has TikTok been banned in the US?

No, TikTok hasn't been banned in the US. However, limitations are being put on the app across the country, with the federal government and more than half of US states banning TikTok on government devices.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has threatened a national ban unless the company's Chinese owners divest their stakes in it. But this won't be easy to implement - back in 2020 then-President Donald Trump also tried to ban TikTok, but the move was blocked by the courts.

Other countries that have banned the app on government phones include the UK, Canada and Australia, while the European Parliament, European Commission, and the EU Council have all banned TikTok on staff devices.

In addition, a number of public universities have also chosen to restrict access to TikTok on their on-campus WiFi networks. These include University of Florida, University of Idaho, University of Oklahoma and University of Texas.

Which states have banned TikTok on government devices? Full list

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine 
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

A close up of a person selecting the TikTok app on their phone

(Image credit: Alamy)

Why did Montana ban TikTok?

Montana banned TikTok over concerns around the app's ties to China, which are thought to pose a national security threat. Legislators fear that US user data held by the company could be passed on to China’s government.

TikTok is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, and the company has repeatedly denied being controlled by the Chinese government.

The app has also come under fire for  the harmful content that it gives teenagers and young people access to. In 2022, research from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) found certain accounts were repeatedly being served content around eating disorders and self-harm just minutes after joining the platform.

The Montana bill refers to encouragement of "dangerous activities" among young users of the app, such as "throwing objects at moving automobiles" or "lighting a mirror on fire and then attempting to extinguish it using only one's body parts".

How will Montana enforce the TikTok ban?

The new law prohibits downloads of TikTok in the state. Any entity - i.e. app store or TikTok itself - that allows access to the app will be fined $10,000 per day each time someone "is offered the ability" to download or use it. 

The fines do not apply to the app's users, and will not forbid those who already have TikTok from using it.

However, Montana's ban is expected to face legal challenges, with its opposers saying the crackdown amounts to censorship. In addition, some have pointed out that the ban could easily be evaded by using a VPN to encrypt internet traffic.

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Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.