TikTok is hiring hundreds more US staff in a show of confidence against Donald Trump
- TikTok has increased its US job postings even as Donald Trump tries to hive off its US business or ban the app altogether.
- According to analysis by Business Insider, the number of jobs listed at three of TikTok's US offices increased slightly in the last week to 357 positions.
- Several of the roles are in TikTok's trust and safety team, which is trying to prove the app doesn't harvest more data than other similar services.
- Sources at TikTok told Business Insider that the company's US executives are acting and hiring as though it's business as usual.
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TikTok's response to the threat of a nationwide ban in the United States is perhaps an unusual one: it's continuing to hire in the hundreds.
The number of jobs listed in the company's New York, Los Angeles and Mountain View offices has increased 3.5% in the last week to 357 posts, according to analysis by Business Insider.
The share of job listings in TikTok's US offices as a proportion of all the openings available at the company has also increased slightly from 27.4% to 28%.
That's despite Donald Trump issuing two executive orders that would compel the company to sell up its US presence to an American company, or else force it to stop doing business in the US. Microsoft and Oracle are believed to be the two leading bidders.
"TikTok seems to still be hiring at an impressive clip," said Brendan Gahan, partner and chief social officer at Mekanism, a US creative agency. "I imagine they must be incredibly confident that they're not going anywhere. Trump pushing back the ban deadline probably reinforces this perception."
Trump announced on Sunday in a second executive order that he was setting a 90-day deadline for any deal to buy TikTok to be agreed — a doubling of the previous 45-day limit.
The hires "demonstrate their confidence that there is a future for their company, which I also believe," said Karyn Spencer, senior vice president at influencer marketing firm Whalar, and a former Vine employee.
"They've got Kevin [Mayer] and Vanessa [Pappas] at the helm, two very capable people with deep experience in steering large companies through challenges, and I'm sure there are an army of lawyers ready to fight as needed," she added, referring to TikTok's US CEO and general manager respectively.
"They don't seem scared of Trump's tactics to bully them and distract the country."
TikTok has threatened a lawsuit against the administration, while a sole employee is planning to file his own suit later this week calling the ban unconstitutional because it would rob him and his colleagues of their paychecks.
TikTok is staffing up in battleground areas such as safety and regulation
TikTok is staffing up in key areas that could be useful in an imminent battle with the Trump administration over the company's future.
Many of the listings are for staff to join the company's trust and safety team, which has been tasked with proving the app does not harvest or handle data in ways that are different to other social platforms, and doesn't siphon off data to China.
Others indicate a lot of work ahead.
A listing for a New York-based privacy and regulatory affairs counsel requires applicants, if they're given the role, to review new products and features "to ensure compliance with data protection laws", and to "assist in compliance and design" alongside developing policies around privacy and data protection practices. The salary is not listed.
"At a time when unemployment is at an all-time high, TikTok is probably able to scoop up a lot of top-tier talent much easier than usual," said Gahan.
The company is also making moves to defend itself more robustly in public. TikTok launched a website on August 17 designed to rebut claims about its allegedly poor privacy record, and which says it's "setting the record straight."
Three US-based TikTok employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to media, said the hiring spree wasn't surprising.
"I don't think anything's changed," said one. "We're just continuing to grow and evangelize the app. The plan is to be here for the long term, and the executives are sorting that out now."
The company has said it plans to hire 10,000 employees in the US in the coming three years despite Trump's threatened ban, adding to its roughly 1,500 workers in the country.
Gahan also believes the hiring spree serves a second purpose beyond ensuring there are enough staff to maintain TikTok's meteoric growth.
"If they're able to publicize their hires it may become increasingly unpopular to ban the app," he said.
"There are a lot of people out there desperate for work, shuttering a company actively hiring wouldn't be a popular decision to make right now."
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