TikTok Changed The Online Home & Garden Landscape. What Happens If It's Banned?

With concerns about user data being leaked to the Chinese government through the app, TikTok fell under the scrutiny of the U.S. Government, although the company consistently denied these claims. The proposal to ban TikTok has been circling through government desks for some time but was recently lumped in with a package of other legislature related to foreign aid spending. On Wednesday, April 24, 2024, President Biden signed the bill, essentially banning TikTok nationwide unless it could be sold to a U.S.-based company within nine months. 

TikTok currently has about 170 million active monthly users who could be affected by the ban — roughly half of the country — and plenty of users are upset at the idea of losing access to the app. But there's another aspect of the TikTok ban that many people aren't talking about yet: how it will affect creators in the home and garden sphere. "It makes me sad to think that if TikTok gets banned, I would be losing contact with the best gardening community I've ever had," gardening educator @jerrasgarden said in a TikTok video.  

For years, TikTok has been an extremely valuable platform for sharing interior design trends, DIY tutorials, gardening tips, cleaning hacks, and more. If TikTok is effectively banned, how will it change the way we learn about and share this information? Here's how TikTok influenced our homes and how the new ban may affect creators, users, and the world of design as a whole.

TikTok gave everyone a seat at the home table

TikTok keeps us on our toes with the latest home and garden trends, but perhaps more importantly, TikTok allows for the "little guys" of the world to spread awesome ideas quite quickly. Unlike other platforms, TikTok's algorithm shows users any content that fits their watch history — even if it only has a few dozen likes. Interior designer Bilal Rehman explained (via Business of Home), "On TikTok, somebody may have once searched for an 'interior design tips' video ... now all of a sudden I'm showing up on their page because of that search, and I'm getting discovered by people who would have never discovered me before and building a community that's way larger and stronger than on any other platform."

TikTok made the concept of interior design free and accessible to everyone and fostered healthy conversations about following trends, saving money, starting gardens, reducing waste, and more. Through this algorithm, we discussed ideas like the Unexpected Red Theory, a viral TikTok home decor trend that polarized the internet. Together, we discovered that Gen Zers and Millennials are right, the big light is a big pain. We used pizza pans to elevate our home office and tried cleaning our toilets with a bar of soap. Sure, some ideas may have been better than others, and the platform isn't perfect, but TikTok is a veritable wonderland of home and garden advice, one where no creator is too small to contribute. 

The future of home and garden creators under a TikTok ban

Hopes are slim that TikTok will be sold within the nine-month timeframe, so many creators and users are bracing themselves for a future without TikTok. If the ban on TikTok follows through, we could be losing an invaluable resource in the home and garden realm. The ban won't just hurt home and garden content creators, many of whom depend on TikTok's Creator Fund and sponsored advertisements as a source of income. The ban will likely also have a profoundly negative impact on small businesses, independent designers, consultants, and others who use the app to promote their goods and services. 

With TikTok, creators and users are able to take matters into their own hands instead of relying on large companies, big-wig designers, and brands to spread ideas and information. If TikTok disappears, some users may return to more traditional forms of consumption, like HGTV, popular home blogs, and magazines. However, the majority will likely seek out other short-form content platforms. 

Several other companies have already launched their own short-form video features, such as Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and Facebook Reels, making the transition from TikTok to another website much easier. However, those other platforms don't have the same micro-influencer-friendly algorithms, and creators without a huge following may not survive. For now, people will still have access to TikTok (and all its creative home and garden content) until the company hits its deadline to sell, as early as January 2025.