TikTok to Lay Off Significant Portion of Global Workforce Amid US Ban Threat

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TikTok is set to lay off a significant portion of its global workforce today, following recent legislation by President Joe Biden that mandates the sale of the platform by its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to a US-based firm or face a ban.

The social media giant, which has a global workforce of around 1,000 employees, will be issuing layoff notifications across its user operations, content, and marketing teams, according to sources reported by The Information. The precise number of layoffs remains unclear, but it is believed that TikTok’s global operations team, responsible for user support and communications, will be completely disbanded.

This large-scale layoff marks a departure from ByteDance’s usual approach of implementing cost-cutting measures in smaller stages. Insiders revealed that some team members not laid off will be reassigned to other departments such as trust and safety, marketing, content, and product.

TikTok had previously cut dozens of employees at the start of the year but has historically avoided the large-scale layoffs that have become more common among other tech companies.

The layoffs coincide with Biden’s recent signing of a law that gives ByteDance until January 19 to sell TikTok to a US-based company or face a ban. The law prohibits app stores like Apple and Google’s Play Store from offering TikTok and prevents internet hosting services from supporting the app unless ByteDance divests.

The White House has expressed concerns over national security, emphasizing the need to end Chinese-based ownership rather than impose a blanket ban on TikTok.

In response, a group of TikTok creators filed a lawsuit in US federal court last week seeking to block the new law. The lawsuit, supported by the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, argues that TikTok is a unique platform for self-expression and community formation, and that the ban threatens free speech under the First Amendment.

ByteDance also filed a lawsuit earlier this month, contending that the new legislation violates the US Constitution on several grounds, including free speech protections. This follows a similar lawsuit by TikTok creators in 2020 to prevent an earlier attempt to ban the app, and another lawsuit last year challenging a state ban in Montana.