Is This Social Media App About to be Banned in the Philippines?

Social media app TikTok is facing a possibility of being banned in the Philippines following the filing of House Bill 10489.

The widely popular social media app is already facing danger of being banned in the United States.

TikTok enjoys widespread popularity here in the Philippines. In fact, data shows that there are 49.09 million TikTok users aged 18 years old and above here in the country. However, the widely popular social media app is facing the risk of being banned in the Philippines as well. 

House Deputy Majority Leader and Manila Representative Bienvenido Abante Jr. has filed House Bill 10489. This bill seeks to ban any app that is controlled by “foreign adversaries,” which includes TikTok. 

Should this bill be passed into law, it likewise prohibits internet service providers (ISPs) from supporting the affected apps. 

The filing of House Bill 10489 follows similar moves by the United States government to ban TikTok, citing security concerns. 

Why House Bill 10489 was Filed 

According to Rep. Abante, there is concern that TikTok is collecting sensitive user data for China’s benefit. He claims that the data is used by the Chinese government to shape public opinion. 

“China could therefore use TikTok’s content recommendations to fuel misinformation, a concern that has escalated in the United States and led to the passage of a law… banning TikTok in the US,” he said. 

“The goal is to enable the Philippine government to prevent the use of these applications or any other modern technology or public utility from being used by foreign adversarial countries to threaten our national security and territorial integrity,” he added. 

DICT Open to Regulating Social Media Apps 

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has also weighed in on the issue, saying that it is open to regulating TikTok as well as other apps that prove to be threats to the Filipino people. 

“We welcome the passage of laws that would allow the President of the Republic to control or regulate applications which are being used for such purposes,” DICT Undersecretary Jeffrey Dy said in an interview with a local radio station. 

Dy revealed that, aside from TikTok, messaging app Telegram is also being monitored by the department. This is due to allegations that the app is used to leak database information that was stolen from government websites. 

What the Potential Ban Means for Marketers 

Numbers from Data Reportal show that TikTok’s ad reach in the country in early 2024 measured at 56.4% of the local internet user base. The potential ad reach from the period of October 2023 to January 2024 alone increased by 9.2 million (23.2%). 

Here in the Philippines, as of early 2024, 49.1% of the social media app’s ad audience is female, with the remaining 50.9% being male.

TikTok’s potential ban in the Philippines will hugely affect the millions of users who rely on the app to share content. These include influencers as well as marketers who have incorporated TikTok into their marketing strategy.