The Scoop: TikTok could face its moment of truth as soon as next week

Plus: Colleges crack down on student protests; how Taylor Swift’s publicist

Congress may soon vote to force the sale of TikTok

A Senate vote on TikTok’s future could come soon after a bill to force the app’s sale or face a ban was bundled with other foreign policy priorities, including additional aid for Ukraine and sanctions against Iran.

The House, which has already passed a version of the bill, has now bundled similar language into a larger bill that tackles several foreign affairs policies, including aid for Ukraine and sanctions against Iran. They could vote on the bill this weekend, and if it passes, the Senate could consider it next week, according to the Wall Street Journal.



Unusually for this Congress, the bill has bipartisan support. Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, even praised Republican House leaders, The Hill reported.

“I’m very happy that Speaker [Mike] Johnson [R-La.] and House leaders incorporated my recommendation to extend the ByteDance divestment period from six months to a year. As I’ve said, extending the divestment period is necessary to ensure there is enough time for a new buyer to get a deal done. I support this updated legislation,” Cantwell said.

President Joe Biden has already said he intends to sign the bill should it become law.

While the bill seems likely to pass, a ban would still take nine months to a year before it is enacted. Even if a sale does not go through, you can expect lengthy litigation as ByteDance fights hard to retain the current crown jewel of social media.

What it means: Don’t panic. But do start planning.

It’s possible this will have no real impact on TikTok users in the long run; it’s possible TikTok could evaporate in the United States within 12 months.

In the meantime, start figuring out your plan B.


Read more: What a potential U.S. TikTok ban means for your social media strategy


“While I don’t think it’s time to panic… yet, as a social media strategist working with a brand, I’d suggest pivoting to a crosspost strategy for TikTok while focusing primarily on making engaging content for Reels and Shorts if bandwidth is limited,” said Nicole Phillip, social media strategist and content creator. “This keeps the content coming (and you’ll still strike a few wins) while putting greater emphasis on what will perform best for the more secure audiences and growing those platforms.”

Short-form video isn’t going anywhere, no matter what happens to TikTok. Plan to keep up that strategy, even if the platform changes. And be prepared for lots of twists and turns along the road before anything happens to TikTok.

Editor’s Top Reads:

  • After years of limited — or no — enforcement of policies against disruptive protests on campus, some college campuses are cracking down in ways that haven’t been seen in 50 years or more. The New York Times reports that just one day after Columbia University President Nemat Shafik testified before Congress about antisemitism on campus, students who had set up tents as part of a protest were arrested by the New York Police Department, a move not seen in decades. Other schools, including Vanderbilt University, have begun suspending or even expelling students who engage in disruptive protests. While on some level, this is an internal matter, it’s also a powerful public relations statement after colleges have faced tough questioning and condemnation from Congress, donors and the public over student protests concerning the war in Gaza. There will be an outcry from some; this issue will not disappear overnight. But it’s clear a new chapter is beginning. Universities must be ready to strike a balance between free speech and collegiality — which is often difficult. How they communicate these policies will be just as important outside the ivory tower as within.
  • Taylor Swift dropped her double album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” early this morning. But long before, her publicist, Tree Paine, has been working to protect and promote the world’s biggest star. A powerhouse profile in the Wall Street Journal details how Paine built a counternarrative around the arrest of Swift’s father, played Whac-a-Mole to knock down rumors about her personal life, and tightly controlled media access. Read the full profile to catch fascinating nuggets about one of the most high-powered publicists in the business. Even if your clients are a bit less glamorous than Swift, there are still strategies to steal.
  • Finally, Meta is incorporating a free AI assistant into many of its products, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, CNBC reported. Built on the company’s own Meta Llama 3 platform, the tool, available in the search boxes of these tools, is free to use. It represents a major push into the AI world, where it will compete against more established players like ChatGPT, Google Gemini and Microsoft Copilot. Yet it will provide results from both Google and Microsoft. “We believe that Meta AI is now the most intelligent AI assistant that you can freely use,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. An image generation tool is available in beta on WhatsApp and via the website Meta.Ai. Yes, this is yet another AI tool you’ll need to experiment with. Stay tuned for more reporting on how it holds up.

Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


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