The Scoop: TikTok sues the American government

Plus, Panera pulls caffeinated lemonade after safety issues, Disneyland announces massive expansion.

Weeks after the U.S. Congress voted to ban TikTok unless it’s sold to an American company, the short-form video app is swiping back at the ruling.

According to NBC News, TikTok is filing a suit against the government because it claims the law violates the free speech rights of not only the platform but its millions of users as well.

“For the first time in history, Congress has enacted a law that subjects a single, named speech platform to a permanent, nationwide ban,” TikTok wrote in the lawsuit, “and bars every American from participating in a unique online community with more than 1 billion people worldwide.”

The company argues that invoking national security concerns is not a sufficient reason for restricting free speech, and that the burden is on the federal government to prove that this restriction is warranted. It has not met that burden, the lawsuit stated.

In addition, while this lawsuit was expected, it will undoubtedly lengthen the timeline for any potential ban to take effect. Under the current law, parent company ByteDance has nine months to sell TikTok, with the potential for a three-month extension. After that, it faces a ban.

Why it matters: With millions of users across the globe, TikTok rapidly transformed over the last few years from a clone of the old app Vine to an incredibly powerful media entity all its own. Brands of all types have flocked the platform to capitalize on its young, engaged user base. Additionally, the trends that are sparked seemingly every day on TikTok have provided great fodder for both branded videos and collaborations with popular creators.

While we all knew a legal challenge was coming – ByteDance has been clear that it does not intend to sell TikTok – it’s still a new wrinkle to this ongoing saga and a dash of uncertainty that harried social media managers don’t need.

Here’s what we do know: you have a minimum of (slightly less than) nine months to figure out a Plan B. Keep your eye on that deadline even as you prepare for any number of injunctions and legal maneuverings that could push the timeline out even further.

In the meantime, people will continue to use TikTok. The platform is there and active. There’s no need to flee before the app disappears. Don’t turn your back on the platform yet – but also look at what’s next for you if the worst does happen. Will you go to Reels? Shorts? Reinvest that time and budget into another medium altogether?

You have time. Use it well.

Editor’s Top Reads:

  • Panera’s highly caffeinated Charged Lemonades are being pulled from the chain’s list of menu offerings. According to The Guardian, the changes come after two deaths and multiple lawsuits involving the drinks, and the change is being dubbed a “menu transformation. “We listened to more than 30,000 guests about what they wanted from Panera, and are focusing next on the broad array of beverages we know our guests desire – ranging from exciting, on-trend flavors, to low-sugar and low-caffeine options,” a Panera spokesperson said in the report from The Guardian. If you’re being sued over lemonade that’s allegedly killed people, it’s probably well past time to change the menu. But notice how Panera kept their statement on the positive side, focusing on listening and the needs of guests. Maintaining a positive, customer-centric tone can help weather the storm of public scrutiny amid controversy.
  • Disneyland is planning a multibillion-dollar expansion to its Anaheim Park, according to Deadline. It’s notable for a few reasons, including the fact that it’s the park’s largest expansion since its opening. But this Disney announcement is also newsworthy because it comes on the heels of a major fight between Disney against activist investors on its board, which led to some less-than-rosy headlines for the entertainment giant. If you’ve got a big announcement in the hopper, sometimes releasing it on the heels of negative news can help turn public perception in a more positive direction.
  • Have you ever wanted to be able to shop while watching one of your favorite shows? Maybe not, but if you subscribe to Amazon Prime, you’ll be able to do just that. According to The Hollywood Reporter, new ad formats on Amazon Prime Video will allow viewers to shop right from their couch. In a world in which media gets more and more integrated and the line between content and commerce is blurred, it’s worth considering how your brand’s positioning on social and external content drives people back to your revenue-generating streams. There are always new ways to innovate driving business — getting creative with your storytelling formats can help.

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports and hosting trivia.


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