With a TikTok ban hitting Montana and dozens of other, more nuanced bans of the app across the world, there’s a chance you might see yourself in a situation in which you want to scroll through your FYP amidst a ban. Enter: VPNs and cross-state travel.
Where is TikTok banned?
First, let’s back up: The U.S. government has been threatening some kind of TikTok ban since at least 2019 when Senators Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, and Chuck Schumer asked the government to investigate the app over its connection with the Chinese government. (Its developer, ByteDance, is a Chinese company.) Eventually presidents — including both Donald Trump and Joe Biden — looked into banning the app. But no bans have been as strict or aggressive as the ban in Montana.
Which countries have banned TikTok?
On Wednesday, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill into law that bans TikTok in the state. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2024, but only if the courts don’t stop it by then. Users can still download the app, upload content, and scroll along for the next seven months without a worry, but if — and that’s a big if — the ban does go through, you’ll have to jump through some hoops.
How to use TikTok in a banned state
We can’t recommend that you use TikTok if it is banned, but there aren’t currently any laws that would punish users for doing so.
Currently, the only active TikTok bans in the U.S., other than the Montana drama, are on government devices and on most public university campuses. This basically means that you can’t download or use TikTok on your government-owned cell phones and, if you’re on a college campus, you can’t use the university WiFi while using the app.
To use TikTok while avoiding the ban on university campuses you could, hypothetically, use cellular data or personal WiFi — as long as it isn’t on a university-owned device or on university WiFi, you’re good. That’s a bit different if the app is banned across an entire state, though.
If a ban actually goes through in Montana, users can, hypothetically, travel to other states or countries to download TikTok, but the easiest way to get around a ban is to, hypothetically, use a VPN. A VPN, or virtual private network, cloaks your current location. Folks use it to watch shows that aren’t available in their country or unblock Pornhub in Utah, so it’s sure to be a useful tool if TikTok bans go into effect.
There are plenty of VPNs available — free or paid, as apps or browser extensions — so pick your poison.