Kenny Jary finds it devastating that lawmakers are seriously contemplating a U.S. ban on TikTok.
He says he’s praying that it won’t happen. In just a year and a half, the 81-year-old St. Paul, Minnesota, TikTok creator has amassed 2.6 million followers on the wildly popular but politically radioactive short-form video-sharing social platform.
When Jary’s scooter broke down, TikTok users rallied around him and donated money to replace it. This led to the establishment of the nonprofit Patriotic Kenny Foundation, which gives away mobility scooters to veterans for free. Jary’s TikTok handle is @patriotickenny.
“Taking away TikTok would completely change Kenny’s life,” says neighbor Amanda Kline, 37, who records, edits and posts Jary’s videos. “His health was declining, he was really isolated and alone, and through TikTok he was able to get mobility, freedom, … connect with the world and build a community and love.”
Dan Salinger (@dsalnorcal), 55, who posts videos about caring for Ed, his 91-year-old dad with advanced dementia, is also concerned about a potential ban. It would leave a “terrible void for literally tens of millions of Americans” who have become dependent on TikTok to find companionship, friends, support and unity.
TikTok still among the most downloaded apps
TikTok’s global reach is massive. Dismantling it, were that to happen, would be an enormous lift. More than 150 million active users are on TikTok monthly in the U.S alone, with more than 1 billion around the world.
This week it is the third most popular app in the Apple App Store behind two others with Chinese roots, bargain-shopping app Temu and video editor CapCut. It’s the second most popular in Google Play after Temu.
“I do believe they’re going to find a way to avoid banning an app that is used by half the country,” Salinger says. (The U.S. population as of midyear 2022 was 333.3 million, according to the Census Bureau, but nearly 19 million were younger than 5.)
Yet the clock may be ticking on TikTok in the United States. Since the Trump administration, TikTok has been in the U.S. government’s crosshairs because of national security concerns surrounding the ties of parent company ByteDance to China’s Communist government.