El Paso business owner worried about possible TikTok ban

El Paso business owner worried about possible TikTok ban

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — TikTok could face a nationwide ban after the U.S. Senate passed a bill late Tuesday night, April 23, forcing the app’s parent company to sell or face a ban.

Now, it all falls into the hands of President Biden, who has said he supports the bill and is expected to sign it.

The move comes after both Democrats and Republicans in the House passed a series of funding bills that would provide billions of dollars in foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, as well as forcing TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance to sell the platform.

Now, this is drawing concerns for content creators across the U.S., including in the Borderland, where one local business owner has used the app to make, or in this case, increase her profits.

Isca Zeledon, owner of the Mexican Candy Lady shop in El Paso, started the business back in 2018, selling Mexican snacks from her home. She says she made the switch to an in-person store in 2022 after people found out she lived in El Paso and her business started gaining more popularity.

However, construction started in front of her shop in January 2023, affecting her traffic.

“I was having a hard time with people coming into the store because of the construction and online just wasn’t cutting it anymore. So, I decided to give TikTok Shop (a feature in the app) a chance and within two or three weeks, it exploded,” she said.

Zeledon said in four months her sales increased by 80%, and her followers on TikTok increased from 100,000 to 260,000 after she opened TikTok Shop on her Mexican Candy Lady account.

TikTok has been an ongoing concern for bipartisan lawmakers and the FBI for a wide array of reasons, one being that it is owned by a China-based company, posing national security concerns in the U.S.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, said: “Many of us believe that it is important that we protect the interests of the U.S., and along those lines means protecting us against malign actors.”

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, also raised concerns over the app posing a possible national security risk.

“Every national security expert, intelligence, and military, will tell you that this is a spy balloon in your phone,” McCaul told a Nexstar sister station.

Now, with the Senate’s vote Tuesday vote, Zeledon said she is worried about the future of her business.

“I am a little scared. Only thing I can do is sell as much as I can, save money, and move on to the next viral app,” she said.

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