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TikTok’s plan to avoid government intervention: Flood DC with influencers

Another person familiar with the plans noted that TikTok pays for the cost of sending influencers to DC. It was unclear which influencers would make the trip.

“Washington lawmakers debating TikTok should hear firsthand from people whose lives would be directly affected by their decisions,” said TikTok spokesperson Jamal Brown. “We look forward to welcoming our creators to our nation’s capital, helping them make their voices heard and continuing to have a meaningful impact on their lives and on their communities.

The Information first reported the invitation to the creators.

The influencer push won’t be TikTok’s only attempt to sway government officials in Washington next week. App CEO Shou Zi Chew is also expected to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday.

ByteDance has amassed an army of PR and lobbying professionals in recent years to fend off threats to its business, which first began with the Trump administration’s efforts to effectively ban the app. Although the Biden administration reversed those executive orders, enforcement bans have intensified among members of both parties in recent months. Recently, the White House offered its support for a bipartisan bill that could ban TikTok. The Justice Department is also reportedly investigating ByteDance for spying on US citizens, including journalists who reported on the tech industry.

As the administration pondered the app’s fate in the United States, the company tapped Biden-linked political consulting and public relations firm SKDK. Former SKDK employees in the administrative ranks include Anita Dunn, who was a founding partner in the firm and is now a senior adviser to Biden.

TikTok’s political backlash extends far beyond Washington. Last Thursday, the UK banned the app on government phones.

Brendan Bordelon contributed to this report.

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