TikTok Launches $1M Fund for Social Creators Amid US Ban Threats

TikTok is pulling out all the stops to prevent its impending ban in the United States. Aside from initiating legal action against the U.S. government, that means shaping up its public image. On Tuesday, the platform announced its TikTok Change Makers Program, which includes 50 global creators who “create a positive impact on and beyond the platform.”

Creators in the program will get support from TikTok, and on each creator’s behalf, TikTok will donate $25,000 to a nonprofit of their choice.

“This program enables us to connect with wider audiences, encouraging creativity for meaningful advocacy and health communication,” said Alain Labrique, a director at the World Health Organization (WHO), in a statement.

In a blog post, TikTok spotlighted the 10 creators who will take part in this program, which includes environmental activists (Caulin DonaldsonEli VirkinaFranziska Trautmann) and motivational speakers (Barbara CostelloAlethea Crimmins). One honoree, Joel Bervell, makes videos addressing racial disparities in medicine; he serves on a White House-sponsored committee of healthcare leaders in social media.

TikTok has not deliberately stated that this program is part of its larger plan to continue operating in the U.S., but how could it not be? This is a do-or-die moment for TikTok, and making a large charitable donation makes the platform look good — even if $1 million is nothing for a company that could be worth up to $100 billion.

In April, President Joe Biden signed a bill that would ban TikTok if ByteDance does not sell the app. But the China-based ByteDance shows no indication of complying with these demands. Still, TikTok’s fate is up in the air. A lot can happen over the year that ByteDance has to sell, especially if Biden fails to win re-election in November.

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