TikTok quietly slowed its US hiring this spring as it faced heat in Washington over security concerns – but the wildly popular app has lately started handing out job offers again, The Post has learned.
The renewed hiring at TikTok – which for some insiders has become a leading indicator for the state of a US clampdown on Chinese spying – has prompted speculation that the app’s Beijing-based owner ByteDance is betting that a slew of bills in Congress that sought to ban TikTok likely won’t move forward, sources said.
“If they had a bad feeling about the market they wouldn’t be hiring,” a source told On The Money. “This is a bet against any political action being taken.”
Earlier this year, Beltway politicians including some from the progressive flank of the Democratic Party called for a forced divestiture by ByteDance of TikTok’s US operations.
In response, TikTok laid off some recruiters and recently stopped hiring security consultants necessary for implementing a possible security agreement with the government, according to sources.
Since then, US senators including Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have proposed bills that grants government authority to “ban or prohibit” foreign technology like the China-owned app TikTok.“They are taking data from Americans, not keeping it safe, but what worries me more with TikTok is that this can be a propaganda tool,” Warner said.
But as the legislation proliferates, some sources say it’s looking more like a tangled mess than a tide of opposition to TikTok.
“Biden isn’t serious about the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) doing anything to ban TikTok,” one source with knowledge of the situation told On The Money. “He knows he looks soft on China so he’ll threaten to ban it then bide his time.
“But if he really wanted to take action he would issue another executive order,” the source added.
People close to Biden say the White House is keenly aware that a ban could cost him votes and that he’s chosen to lean on TikTok influencers to ingratiate himself to younger generations.
The security concerns reached a fever pitch after TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified in front of Congress in March. Zhou’s came in the weeks after the US shot down a Chinese spy balloon which amplified national security concerns.
It’s not just TikTok that ByteDance continues to invest in. The Chinese company is also planning to launch its new venture Lemon8 which features pictures and text and is described as a cross between Instagram and Pinterest.
TikTok did not respond to a request for comment. It’s unclear what, if any, impact Montana’s decision to ban the app will have on the company’s hiring decisions moving forward.
This story originally appeared on NYPost