The Battle of TikTok: Lobbying to Stay in the US

The Battle of TikTok: Lobbying to Stay in the US

In an effort to prevent Congress from passing legislation that would potentially ban TikTok in the United States, ByteDance and its parent company, TikTok, have spared no expense. Combined, they have spent over $7 million this year alone on lobbying efforts. ByteDance, in particular, invested a record $2.68 million in in-house TikTok lobbyists during the first quarter of the year. On the other hand, TikTok itself spent over $4.5 million on a TV and digital ad campaign to push back against potential legislation that could lead to the app’s ban. This substantial expenditure reflects their commitment to educating policymakers on the impact such legislation could have on their community of 170 million American users.

Political Influence

The lobbying efforts of TikTok and ByteDance have targeted Congress and President Joe Biden’s executive office. By engaging with key decision-makers, they hope to sway opinions and prevent the ban of the popular social media app in the US. The recent disclosure reports indicate that TikTok officials have been actively lobbying Congress and the Executive Office of the President, which includes critical divisions such as the National Security Council and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Legislative Actions

The House recently passed legislation tied to TikTok, giving ByteDance a nine-month window to divest the social media app or face a ban in the US. A similar bill was passed in March, which would have provided a six-month deadline for divestment, but it has since stalled in the Senate. The Senate is expected to vote on the latest TikTok bill, further intensifying the battle to keep TikTok operational in the country.

Apart from their in-house lobbying efforts, ByteDance has also engaged external consultants to bolster their influence in Washington. Veteran lobbyist David Urban’s firm, LGL Advisors, was paid $80,000 by ByteDance last quarter to sway Congress on the March bill targeting the technology company. This move underscores the magnitude of efforts being made to protect TikTok’s presence in the US.

TikTok has not hesitated to invest in lobbying firms, spending over $400,000 since the beginning of the year. The significant resources allocated to lobbying reflect the importance ByteDance and TikTok place on maintaining their foothold in the American market. In 2023, ByteDance and TikTok collectively spent over $8 million on lobbying efforts, highlighting the scale of their commitment to securing their position in the US despite regulatory challenges.


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