Inside TikTok’s Operation to Acquire Washington
With a giant billboard at Washington’s main train station, an army of influencers on Capitol Hill, and ad campaigns in the political press, TikTok is doing its best as it fights to live in the capital of the United States.
The Chinese-owned video-sharing platform has had a glamorous attack to convince Washington’s political elite that it benefits millions of Americans — not millions. security threat which needs to be neutralized.
“Hi guys, I’m here outside of Lindsey Graham’s office in the US Senate,” greeting card maker @sparksofjoyco told her 90,000 followers in a video filmed at the door of the senate. Republican member.
“I’ll be reaching out to talk to them about TikTok’s impact on my life and business, and share the concerns you’ve shared in the comments.”
It looks like a naive enough vignette about a TikTok user worried enough about the threat to her favorite app while traveling to Washington, even though the protest may not come spontaneously. play as original.
The influencer was pictured a few hours earlier, hand in hand with TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew.
The Singaporean CEO — wearing jeans and a hoodie — is ubiquitous on his own platform and in traditional mediaahead of his much-anticipated sizzling appearance on Thursday before lawmakers.
His mission is simple but difficult: convince the American political class of his platform’s serious efforts to protect user data.
Lawmakers and government officials of all sectors have been concerned that ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese owner, might turn over Americans’ data to the government in Beijing, and are calling for it to be deleted. from app stores or sold to a US company.
Proponents argue that the platform is no more vulnerable to a data breach than any other app collects personal information—and that legislators should work to strengthen privacy laws rather than spoil their fun.
TikTok itself has for years denied seeing it as a threat, but tensions between Washington and Beijing, exacerbated by the recent destruction of a hot air balloon suspected of Chinese espionage , has pushed politicians to be tougher.
The app — recently revealed it has 150 million users in the United States — has been outlawed on all federal government devices, but lawmakers and President Joe Biden are weighing it down. nationwide ban.
TikTok has deployed 43 lobbyists, including older but influential former senators from both parties, to argue its case.
Almost every morning, when campaigners and shockwaves in Washington wake up to Politico’s Playbook, they encounter a message from TikTok designed to allay fears of Chinese surveillance. .
“We are committed to protecting your personal data, while still providing you with the global TikTok experience you love,” the company said.
Lobbying is nothing new in the nation’s capital, where influential groups are often encountered in the corridors of Congress, seeking to bring elected officials to court.
Sarah Bryner, a researcher at OpenSecrets, which tracks corporate lobbying, says advertising in Washington tends to target political types—primarily lawmakers and employees. their own—rather than the public.
For TikTok, this lobbying has grown to more than $5.3 million by 2022, according to OpenSecrets.
This is more than what Twitter spent on the same cause, and more importantly, 20 times what the video-sharing platform paid for lobbying campaigns in 2019.
Whether the lavish budget will change hearts and minds remains to be seen, but the early signs are not good.
Opening a hearing for TikTok’s boss on Thursday, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Cathy Rodgers appears to have decided.
“Your platform should be banned,” she said.
© 2023 AFP
quote: Inside TikTok’s operation to win over Washington (2023, March 23) accessed March 23, 2023 from https://techxplore.com/news/2023-03-tiktok-washington.html
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