Genealogist on TikTok ban bill: 'This is the bulk of my client base'

After a confidential intelligence briefing earlier this year, a bill to ban TikTok, citing national security concerns, received bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. But now, as similar legislation is being considered by the U.S. Senate, some Minnesotans are saying not so fast.

Jen Shaffer is known by tens of thousands of people as The Formidable Genealogist. The New Brighton mom says she needed more work-life balance after the birth of her daughter, so she left an office job and started her own genealogy company.

Shaffer now credits TikTok for the explosion of her business. But she is concerned, because lawmakers want to ban TikTok, unless the Chinese company, ByteDance, sells the social network within 180 days.

"I would be very much hurting for clients… I would probably have to go out and find a different job, making it a lot more difficult for me to spend time with my daughter," Shaffer told FOX 9 on Saturday. "I would probably need to find a part-time job, because this is the bulk of my client base, and it’s making my business extremely successful."

Shaffer works from home, building family trees and helping clients find long-lost relatives. In just a couple of years, she says she’s gained 350 clients from TikTok, and has 150 others on a waiting list. To her, TikTok is simply a platform that’s turned a dream job into a reality. She is charging $68 an hour, and she says she’s more than doubled her previous salary.

"I just hope that everyone considers both sides of this," Shaffer said. "I have contacted Senator Klobuchar and Senator Smith… a lot of business owners are very concerned. Because this is a tool to reach my clients, to continue to support my family."