TikTok’s plan to stave off government intervention: flood D.C. with influencers
The influential social media app TikTok is flooding the nation’s capital with influencers next week as part of an 11th hour lobbying blitz to stave off the forced sale of the company.
The efforts come as the Biden administration urges TikTok’s Chinese owners to sell the app to a new owner or face a potential ban in the United States. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the interagency board that issued the call, has spent years reviewing the potential national security risks posed by TikTok, and the Chinese company that owns it: ByteDance.
Dozens of TikTok creators will descend on Washington for three days next week, according to a person familiar with the plans, who revealed details on condition of anonymity. The creators will hold a press conference on Wednesday on Capitol Hill, the person added.
Another person familiar with the plans noted that TikTok was paying for the cost of sending influencers to D.C. It was not clear which influencers would be making the trip.
“Lawmakers in Washington debating TikTok should hear firsthand from people whose lives would be directly affected by their decisions,” said a TikTok spokesperson Jamal Brown. “We look forward to welcoming our creators to our nation’s capital, helping them make their voices heard, and continuing to drive meaningful impact in their lives and for their communities.”
The Information first reported the invitation to creators.
The influencer push will not be TikTok’s only attempt to sway government officials in Washington next week. The app’s CEO Shou Zi Chew is also slated to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday.
ByteDance has amassed an army of public relations and lobbying professionals in recent years to fend off threats to its business, which first began with efforts by the Trump administration to effectively ban the app. Although the Biden administration rescinded those executive orders, measures to ban the app have intensified among members of both parties in recent months. Recently, the White House offered its support for a bipartisan bill that could ban TikTok. The Justice Department is also reportedly investigating ByteDance for spying on American citizens, including journalists who have reported on the tech industry.
As the administration has mulled the app’s fate in the U.S, the company brought on the Biden-connected public relations and political consulting firm, SKDK. Among former SKDK employees who occupy the administration’s ranks are Anita Dunn, who was a founding partner of the firm and is now a senior advisor to Biden.
The political blowback for TikTok extends far beyond Washington. Just Thursday, the U.K. banned the app from government phones.
Brendan Bordelon contributed to this report.
By Hailey Fuchs