Sarah Cooper took it with humor. The comedian from New York, who has more than half a million followers on TikTok, reacted to the impending ban on the Chinese app by the US government, as she does best: In a short TikTok video, she moved her lips to Donald Trump's announcement of the ban and pulled the US President and his erratic statements once again through cocoa.

If the video platform TikTok actually disappears from the app stores in the USA, that would probably not be a drama for Cooper. The 42-year-old is also known for her viral Trump parodies on TikTok, but she is also successful on Instagram (786,000 followers) and YouTube (266,000), writes books, does stand-up comedy and appears on television - for her TikTok is just one channel among many on which it is active.

This does not apply to all creators, as the social media producers in the industry are called. TikTok star Curtis Newbill, for example, says the New York Times that his entire income is currently attached to TikTok and its 4.5 million followers. Like many others, he asked his fans in a video at the weekend to follow him on other platforms in the event that he could soon no longer use TikTok. Others said goodbye to their fans in a premature obedient short video, partly angry, partly emotional. But always with the request to keep following them.

As was the case a few weeks ago in India, where TikTok was also banned, content producers and social media influencers are suddenly exposed to a reality that has always been around but is often superseded by the fact that success in social media is always also dependent on algorithms depends on the benevolence of the platform provider or, as in the current case, the moods of In other words, it doesn't matter how many millions of followers you have on TikTok if the app stops working overnight.

Hyped, liked, deleted?

In the dispute over TikTok in India and the USA, the fast pace of the influencer industry becomes clear once again. When the predecessor musical.ly came out in summer 2014, the founders said it only had about 500 downloads a day. The numbers did not increase until almost a year later, when the financial reserves were almost exhausted. And with the first viral videos that were suddenly shared via established platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, the first TikTok influencers such as the Swabian twins Lena and Lisa emerged. Two teenagers who did nothing but sing backing tracks at home were invited to worldwide fashion shoots within a year, got their own clothing collection, sponsorship contracts, and appeared on television.

Since the takeover of musical.ly by the Chinese company ByteDance and the renaming to TikTok in summer 2018, the development has accelerated even faster. TikTok and the Chinese sister network Douyin now count 800 million active users. In Los Angeles, where else, there is now an estate where several successful TikToker live to be able to shoot videos together and thus push each other. The name: HypeHouse. As already on YouTube and Instagram, a new entertainment industry has arisen around the platform, which not only employs the TikTok stars themselves, but also managers, authors, marketers and sponsors.

Should TikTok not find a buyer for its US business, all of this could quickly be over. A talent manager from India, for example, told Forbes magazine that banning the app could break 80 percent of its influencer business. And whether all TikTok stars really succeed in building on the successes on platforms like Instagram or YouTube is also uncertain. The aesthetics of TikTok, the feeling of being right there in the app, cannot simply be replaced by another service. This was also shown by the end of Twitter's short video service Vine in 2017: Some popular creators such as Logan Paul and Zach King have successfully switched to other platforms. Not others.