Life after TikTok: Why ban would be buzz kill for viral beekeeper

US President Joe Biden has signed legislation that could lead to a potential TikTok ban in the US, leaving many of the platform's creators panicked about their future.

TikTok has said it will challenge the "unconstitutional law" in court, which could delay a ban for several years.

The legislation gives ByteDance, the platform's Chinese owner, nine months to sell the app before it could be blocked for its 170 million US users.

Several US lawmakers have raised concerns that TikTok shares user data with the Chinese government.

The company has denied those claims.

Content creators on the platform say they fear a ban would affect their livelihoods and limit people's access to new information.

Here's how a potential TikTok ban would affect four TikTok creators.

A Texas beekeeper

When Erika Thompson posted her first bee removal video on TikTok in 2020, it received 24 million views in 24 hours.

Ms Thompson, of Smithville, Texas, said TikTok has given her the opportunity to teach tens of millions of viewers about the insects by taking viewers inside hives.

"My life changed with the push of a button," she said.

The 38-year-old is the owner of Texas BeeWorks, a company she launched before she began posting on the social media platform.

But the platform has now become a significant source of revenue for Ms Thompson, who travels around the world teaching people about bees.

She is able to offset the cost of her bee removal work through the income she generates on the platform and provide all her bee removals for free.

While Ms Thompson views herself as a beekeeper first and a content creator second, she says a ban on the platform would limit who she can educate about bees.

"To me that's really sad," she said. "TikTok has given me the opportunity to be the voice of bees - which is arguably the most important species on Earth- for an entire generation of people.

A TikTok scholar

Trevor Boffone describes himself as a "dancing teacher" in his social media bios where he has over 300,000 followers. He went viral on TikTok in 2019 for posting videos replicating trendy TikTok dances in the classroom with his high school students.

Mr Boffone, of Houston, Texas, resigned from his teaching job last year and now calls himself a TikTok scholar, running TikTok accounts for local businesses and publishing books about the culture of the social media platform.

The 38-year-old said he will lose the majority of his livelihood if the app is banned.

"The people who are making these decisions about banning TikTok - the way they talk about TikTok shows that they think that it is this silly, meaningless place where teenagers are hitting dance challenges," he said.

"But there's so much more education, rulemaking, community building that is taking place on this platform."

Mr Boffone said he feels the government's efforts to ban TikTok is an overstep.

"Singling out TikTok because it's owned by a Chinese company- it just to me reeks of a digital Cold War," he said.

A taco queen

Ilse Valenzuela, 35, was trying to make ends meet after the pandemic left her and her husband without jobs. The pair then began selling tacos at a corner store in Phoenix.

Ms Valenzuela's small business went viral when a customer posted a TikTok of the taco shop.

Fast forward four years, she has opened three brick and mortar shops with a fourth on the way, has 10,000 followers on her TikTok account and a videographer who helps put content together.

Now that a ban on the platform looms over creators' heads, she's concerned - but also confident the platform won't disappear since it has millions of active users.

And while she has loyal customers, her TikTok videos serve as a reminder to come and "get their fix" of tacos.

"[TikTok] took our business where it needed to go," Ms Valenzuela said. "I'm on every platform and none of them are giving me the result that TikTok does and I don't pay for it, I'm not paying for my posts to go viral."

A disability advocate

Disability advocate Tiffany Yu, 35, gives her nearly 130,000 TikTok followers an inside look at what it's like to navigate life with a paralysed arm.

Over the past four years, Ms Yu's TikTok following has led to brand deals, an upcoming book and, most crucially to her, a way to educate people about her life experience.

While Ms Yu, based in Los Angeles, said she's sad about the potential end of the platform in the US, she's also confident that people in the creator community will work around the potential ban.

"As disabled people, we are some of the most creative, problem-solving people out there," Ms Yu said. "I know we'll figure it out, because we always have."

Already, Ms Yu said creators in the disabled community have mobilized and plan to take action if the impending ban comes to fruition.

"We just feel sad and propelled into action," Ms Yu said of the disability creator community. "It makes me really excited to see people … get involved and figure out a way to keep [TikTok]."