ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, remains hands-off as the video app confronts a potential US ban, empowering its local team to act more assertively

Calista Alma
April 11, 2024

Amid mounting challenges in the US, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, ByteDance, has adopted a hands-off strategy, leaving the response to the local team and CEO Chew Shou Zi as they confront potential legal battles and regulatory threats. This marks a notable departure from four years ago when ByteDance directly intervened in response to pressure from the Trump administration.

ByteDance’s current strategy signals a significant shift in its approach to managing TikTok’s affairs in the US. Unlike in the past, where the company’s top executives, including former CEO Kevin Mayer, were directly involved in addressing regulatory challenges, the responsibility now lies predominantly with TikTok’s US team, under the guidance of Chew Shou Zi.

The company’s minimal involvement in responding to the current crisis reflects its confidence in the resilience and resourcefulness of its US-based operations. Despite facing threats of a forced sale or ban, TikTok’s American team has demonstrated a more assertive stance, notably pushing back against legislative measures aimed at restricting the app’s operations.

In a bid to defend its presence in the US, TikTok has launched a multifaceted campaign to highlight its relevance and value to American users and businesses. Led by CEO Chew Shou Zi, TikTok’s US team has intensified its efforts to rally public support and challenge legislative threats.

The company’s recent television advertising campaign, featuring the hashtag #KeepTikTok, underscores its determination to appeal to a broad audience and mobilize its user base against regulatory actions. Additionally, TikTok has invested significant resources in social media advertising and direct user engagement initiatives to counter legislative efforts aimed at restricting its operations.

Despite facing mounting pressure, TikTok’s proactive approach has yielded some early successes. Legislative proposals targeting the app have encountered resistance in the Senate, signaling a potential shift in momentum. However, the ultimate outcome remains uncertain, with the fate of TikTok hinging on ongoing legislative deliberations and regulatory decisions.

As TikTok continues to navigate this challenging landscape, its ability to mobilize public support and engage with policymakers will be crucial in shaping the outcome of its battle for survival in the US market.

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