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TikTok General Counsel Steps Down to Fight Ban

TikTok’s general counsel is stepping down to focus on fighting a pending U.S. ban.

Erich Andersen, who is also general counsel for TikTok parent ByteDance, will leave that role in June and become special counsel to the company, according to an announcement Friday (April 26), two days after a law banning TikTok in the U.S. was signed.

In his new role, Andersen — who joined ByteDance in 2020 — “will focus on helping to drive the company’s effort to overturn the unconstitutional ban legislation in the U.S. and other pressing legal matters,” the announcement said.

President Joe Biden last week signed a law that bans TikTok in the U.S. unless it’s sold inside of a year. The law gives ByteDance 12 months to unload its stake in the company or risk the platform being shut down. Supporters have argued the law is necessary because China-based ByteDance’s ownership of TikTok presents a national security threat.

“Rest assured, we aren’t going anywhere,” TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said in a video posted last week. “We are confident and we will keep fighting for your rights in the courts. The facts and the Constitution are on our side, and we expect to prevail again.”

And while there are parties interested in purchasing TikTok, last week also brought reports that ByteDance would rather shut down the platform than sell it, assuming its legal efforts to fight the ban are unsuccessful.

According to reports last week, ByteDance views TikTok’s algorithms as a core part of its operations, making it unlikely the company would sell the app and those algorithms.

Meanwhile, PYMNTS on Saturday (April 27) examined what life might be like for influencer brands if TikTok leaves the U.S.

“I think it would present new challenges for us as a small business, once the TikTok ban comes into effect,” Fiona Co Chan, CEO and founder of Youthforia, a skincare brand with more than 190,000 followers on the platform, told PYMNTS.

However, influencers say changes in the social commerce landscape have always been part of doing business for brands that have built their following on these platforms.

“Monetization efforts have already changed in the last few months, with TikTok changing its focus to be on videos over 1 minute long, which take more time to put together as a content creator,” said Nadya Okamoto, CEO and co-founder of August.

If the ban happens, brands might need to quickly shift to other platforms to uphold an online presence, costing them additional time and resources.

“In case of a potential ban, I definitely will keep focusing on building platforms on other channels,” Okamoto said, adding that, where once she spent 90% of her time on TikTok, she’s lately reduced that to half, devoting the other half to content “across Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Threads.”