Last week, the US District Court ruled against the executive order to shutter the app’s US operations – we speak to the 21-year-old who made it happen
It’s not every day that a 21-year-old student takes on one of the world’s most powerful men and wins, but for Cosette Rinab, that’s exactly what happened. Since 2018, the TikTok star and fashion creator, who’s known for her bubbly videos and snappy editing, has amassed a staggering 2.3 million followers, earning partnerships with the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Levi’s, and Tory Burch in the process. Last month, she became one of three influencers on the platform, including Alec Chambers and Douglas Marland, to take on Donald Trump’s executive order banning TikTok.
The short form video app, which has an estimated 80 million active monthly users in the US alone, reached out to some of its creators over summer, urging them to consider legal action against Trump’s orders after he first announced he was going to ban the app in July. Banning TikTok, Trump suggested, was retaliation against China for its alleged role in the coronavirus pandemic. Others said it was a response to teens on the app sabotaging the president’s campaign rallies, leaving negative reviews on his re-election app, and attempting to block him from social media.
“Being involved in challenging the executive order was always a no-brainer to me,” says Rinab. “I was so enthusiastic about getting involved and was eager to use my voice and platform to help elicit real change.”
We must be the change we want to see 💪🏼 ##tiktokban @dougmar @imalecchambers♬ FEEL THE GROOVE - Queens Road, Fabian Graetz
In September, TikTok won a decision in federal court to stop a halt on app downloads, following news of a potential deal between Bytedance (the company that owns TikTok) and Oracle and Walmart. Despite this, TikTok still faced a more serious November 12 deadline, which threatened to shut down the app entirely in the US.
A lawsuit filed in federal court in September by Rinab, Marland, and Chambers argued that the November 12 ban went against their first amendment rights for free speech and threatened to take away their livelihoods. Aside from Rinab’s fashion brand sponsorships, Marland had done ads for organisations such as the Almond Board of California, while Chambers worked for Extra chewing gum and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.
“The president’s executive order was, for obvious reasons, very alarming to the entire TikTok community,” says Rinab. “Not only would a ban on TikTok force hundreds of thousands of creators out of their jobs, but it would be silencing the millions of users who rely on TikTok for self-expression and education.”
She added: “I use TikTok to learn about complex financial concepts from users such as @pricelesstay. I feel very strongly about this mission to spread creative, expressive, and educational content, and knew I had to do everything I could to stop it.”
After six weeks of “hearings, zoom calls, and email chains”, US District Court judge Wendy Beetlestone ruled against Trump’s executive order to shutter US TikTok operations last Friday (October 30). While the ruling is a monumental success for Rinab and the others, the influencer maintains that “this is not the end of our battle”. The government can certainly still appeal the decision, a notion Rinab dismisses as a potential misplacement of government priorities.
“Right now, we’re at a major turning point in this country, and TikTok has continuously proven itself to be an important contributor to this moment in social media culture and the political climate. It offers its users a global audience, no matter their follower size,” she explains.
“Unlike any other platform, TikTok is built on authenticity and acceptance,” she concludes. “Our world truly needs to move past the wave of filters and unhealthy beauty standards, as well as constant false claims made by politicians. I’m so honoured to be a part of this contribution and help TikTok continue to provide the support, opportunities, and inclusivity that the creators of TikTok deserve.”