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'It would be rough': What a TikTok ban could mean for Colorado entrepreneurs

Posted at 7:45 PM, Mar 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-28 00:31:50-04

DENVER — The Aurora City Council on Monday joined many other local governments in banning TikTok on city employee phones. At the same time, national political leaders are calling for a more sweeping federal ban over security concerns with the Chinese ownership of the app.

Watching and waiting for the decisions are many content creators in Colorado, who have used the platform to build and expand their businesses and careers.

Andrew Vascassenno, a real estate agent in Denver, said TikTok has been vital to his growth in clientele over the past two years. He entered the field full time in 2020, amid a hot market in Colorado and steep competition among his peers.

“The first couple of years there were honestly a little rough, trying to get the business going [and] trying to get clientele. Not being from here, I didn’t have a huge sphere of people that I knew,” Vascassenno said. “So I’m like, 'Let’s start posting on TikTok.'”

It has been a game changer for him, and he now makes it a priority every single day. In the last year, Vascassenno estimates only missing three days of creating content for the app.

“It’s been unreal for my business,” he said. “I’d say 60-70% of my clients are now coming from TikTok.”

Vascassenno’s videos range from walk-throughs of the homes he’s showing, to advice for new home buyers, to fun things to do around Colorado. He has amassed more than 36,000 followers, and his videos have more than 1.4 million likes.

He never would have imagined entering the field of real estate and garnering this much exposure. But on the same token, he now can’t picture his career without it.
“When you look at those numbers… like, that kind of reach is just insane,” Vascassenno said.

According to TikTok, more than 150 million Americans are on the app, and nearly 5 million businesses now use it as their preferred platform to increase their brand awareness.

The opposition to the app, however, is growing as well. A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is now actively calling for a ban of the app. Colorado Senator Michael Bennett, among those calling for a ban, said that at least 27 states now have instituted partial or full bans on their own.

Vascassenno acknowledged the security concerns for the app, but feels it has been scapegoated to the benefit of American competitors like Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. He hopes leaders will reconsider a ban, and instead, enact more broad privacy protections.

“I hope we just kind of decide — maybe there’s some sweeping privacy policy that relates to all social media platforms, not just TikTok,” he said. “Like I said, 60-70% of my clients right now are coming from there. So, to just shut that pipeline off — I mean, that’s severing a major artery of my business. So that would hurt.”

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