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TikTok changed their lives. What would a ban mean for Tampa Bay creators?

Over 2.2 million TikTok users follow Caulin Donaldson, aka , as he documents beach cleanups and other eco-endeavors. The Pinellas County creator’s fanbase has led him to speaking gigs at Harvard and Dartmouth.

Donaldson was even among a group of influential TikTokers that scored an invite to visit the White House at the end of February. During his trip, he met with government employees in the financial, digital and climate departments.

A few days after Donaldson returned home to North Redington Beach, he heard about the most recent push to ban TikTok, a popular short-form social media platform that’s grown tremendously in recent years.

On Wednesday, President , citing worries that Chinese national security laws could force the app’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, to hand over user information. ByteDance has nine months to sell TikTok, with another three months added on if a sale is in the works by then.

The move has frustrated some local creators.

“The Biden administration is still fully intending on running campaign on TikTok,” Donaldson said. “So they understand the necessity and how much it impacts the everyday U.S. citizen, while still actively pushing to ban it.”

Donaldson talked to the , back when then-president Donald Trump pushed to ban the app. Since then, the creator’s following has ballooned. At least 80 percent of his income comes from partnerships and collaborations on TikTok. He said joining the app five years ago changed his life.

“The path that I was going down is I was literally just going to be that dude that’s like 60 working on the beach, just leathery,” he said. “I’m able to support my family and help them pay with things that they’re struggling with and I have financial freedom that I have never experienced before.”

Dalton and Tori Mason are raising their African Grey parrot, Apollo, like a human toddler.

St. Petersburg couple Dalton and Tori Mason were able to quit their jobs and become full-time creators after videos of their . They now have 2.8 million followers.

Over half of their income last year came from the app. While enrolled in a beta version of TikTok’s creator fund program, a single viral video could earn them upwards of $10,000.

“A lot of people are always saying that creators need to diversify their income streams as much as possible. And this is probably the best example in recent history of how important that is,” Dalton Mason said.

While the couple also makes money off Instagram and YouTube monetization, Tori Mason noted that TikTok has been the most lucrative platform. They recently hired four employees to help care for their parrots and produce content.

“It seems like (a ban) might be unconstitutional since it restricts 170 million U.S. citizens‘ ability to express themselves on a major global platform, but it’s also a foreign entity. I’m sure it will end up in the Supreme Court,” Dalton Mason said.

Emily Croslin is a lifestyle and fashion blogger based in St. Petersburg. She posts on TikTok as @helloemilyerin.

Amid other problems in the country, TikTok “feels like a silly one to focus on,” said local social media professional Emily Croslin.

Croslin posts content under the handle @helloemilyerin on Instagram and TikTok, and offers social media services through her company Flaunt Media Management. While she has had some content take off on TikTok, the bulk of her success comes from Instagram content and partnerships. A TikTok ban probably wouldn’t impact her income.

“I’m a big believer in not putting all of your eggs in one basket. It feels like since I started using TikTok, a potential ban has been looming,” Croslin said. “This isn’t anything new.”

While she enjoys TikTok for personal use, she admits that the app can be a big time suck.

“If the app is done, good riddance,” she said. “It’s one less platform I have to worry about.”