‘It’s gonna be a bummer’: Knoxville TikTok creators talk U.S. app store ban

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Local TikTok content creators and business owners who use it, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic to stay connected, are sharing their thoughts on the upcoming ban of the popular app this weekend.

You learn a new dance, find a new favorite recipe, share stories or a glimpse into a day-in-you-life, all from the screen of your phone.

The video sharing app, TikTok, grew in popularity during the pandemic as health leaders around the globe asked people to stay home. In Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee issued a “Safer at Home” order that encouraged Tennesseans to stay put.

Enter: A social media app to entertain during those days at home.

“I use TikTok as a source of entertainment, as a way to stay connected with the world along with friends and family and a way to network with people and opportunities out there,” said user emmaet17, a UT student.

Some local business owners in Knoxville began using it when the pandemic started and limited the number of in-person capabilities they had to sell coffee.

Andrew and Ashley Mrozkowski had enjoyed being the only coffee supplier at many a major event in Knoxville, including the popular Fantasy of Trees at the Convention Center. Then came the pandemic and Pedal Java had to pivot to something new.

“TikTok exposed us to a national audience of coffee lovers,” said Andrew, “It’s gonna be a bummer because we lose sales.”


TikTok for our local ABC news station! WATE6 in Knoxville TN! Enjoy the #bts of #pedaljava #coffee #fyp #foryoupage #fy #foryou

♬ original sound – pedaljava
Ashley and Andrew Mrozkowski share about TikTok.

Starting Sunday, downloads of TikTok and the messaging app WeChat will be banned in the United States, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced Friday morning.

The department said in a statement that the move was necessary to “safeguard the national security of the United States.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in an interview on Fox Business News Friday morning that these new rules announced Friday were connected with the executive orders issued in August.

However, the new rules are “separate” from the ongoing negotiations between TikTok and tentative U.S. buyers including Oracle and Walmart, according to ABC News.

“Basic TikTok will stay intact until November 12. If there is not a deal by November 12 under the provisions of the old order then TikTok also will be, for all practical purposes, shut down.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

Other East Tennessee users use the app for advocacy.

Justin Fields is a self-proclaimed “Parkinson’s Fighter”, posting to TikTok messages of honesty about living with Parkinson’s himself.

“I use TikTok to advocate on behalf of family friends who were diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, and myself who is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease,” said Fields.


Why I TikTok, and what my thoughts are!

♬ original sound – Justin Fields
Justin Fields on TikTok.

Others, like Hannah Joe Franklin, say they’re on the app for entertainment.

“I think I have like 49 followers so far, not a huge following, but I’m not in it for the following, I’m just in it to have fun,” said Franklin.

What happens next?

According to Ross, TikTok is more complicated than WeChat and new owners.

Essentially, a deadline for a deal with a U.S. buyer has been extended until Nov. 12. In the meantime, updates will be barred in the app.

“Basic TikTok will stay intact until November 12,” he said as quoted in an ABC News report. “If there is not a deal by November 12 under the provisions of the old order then TikTok also will be, for all practical purposes, shut down.”

What starts on Sunday Sept. 20?

The ban prohibits the download of TikTok or WeChat from app stores. It also bans the transfer of funds or processing payments within the U.S. for WeChat.

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