Montana TikTok Ban: How Influencers Are Reacting to the Bill
The Lulys said they supported the ban in the interest of protecting users’ personal information, but believed it would be difficult to enforce.
For Nicole O’Shea, losing TikTok would almost certainly mean losing work. Ms. O’Shea, 41, specializes in user-generated content, or UGC, which means she is paid by brands to make product promotion videos that the brands then run on their own social media accounts. (Ms. O’Shea does not post these videos on her own feeds.) She started making these videos after losing her home and car to the floods that decimated parts of the state in 2022, she said.
“I had to rebuild everything from scratch,” said Ms. O’Shea, who lives in Red Lodge, Mont. “UGC was a really easy way for me to make money from home. I would not have been able to do that without TikTok.” She’s made videos for Sonesta hotels and the soda brand Olipop. On average, she said, she earns about $3,500 a month making content for TikTok.
Ms. O’Shea said she believed the ban would ultimately fail, citing potential legal challenges. “But if, hypothetically, it does stand up and this is real, if I am a law-abiding Montanan who has to walk away from TikTok, then that takes away a very big chunk of my income,” she said. “It takes away my ability to provide for my kids.”
For other Montana creators, losing TikTok is about more than just profits.
Crissy Thomas, 38, initially thought TikTok was just an app for funny videos, but she quickly saw its educational value in her work as a farmer and rancher raising beef cattle in Bozeman. Ms. Thomas has a small audience, just under 5,000 followers, and does not use the platform for business. But, as she explained in a recent TikTok video, she believes the ban will still be a major loss for her and other farmers.
“We’re pretty isolated from the rest of the world,” Ms. Thomas said. “You know, we have grizzly bears in our backyard. Cutting off that communication to us is going to kind of be a little limiting to us being able to progress our businesses and progress our practices.”