TikTok shrugs off Trump attack with expansion plans

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TikTok is continuing to expand despite coming under attack from the Trump administration in the US.

The Chinese-owned firm has announced a tie-up with online retailer Shopify to help businesses create video ads to promote their products.

TikTok also plans to take on around 3,000 engineers over the next three years, a spokesman told the BBC.

The popular short-form video app is being forced to sell its US operations to an American company or face a ban.

TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance will hire the engineers mostly in Europe, Canada, the US and Singapore "to support our rapid global growth," it said.

It currently employs about 1,000 engineers outside of China, with nearly half of them based in California.

Last month, it emerged that ByteDance plans to invest billions of dollars and recruit hundreds of employees in Singapore, which has been selected as its South East Asia headquarters.

The Trump administration says Chinese-owned social media platforms such as TikTok and Tencent's WeChat pose a national security threat, claiming users' data can be accessed by the Chinese government.

Both companies have repeatedly denied these allegations.

Despite the US uncertainty, TikTok continues to push ahead with its hiring expansion plan and moves into e-commerce.

Video ads

On Tuesday, Canada-based Shopify said it was tying up with TikTok in the US to allow businesses to create and track video ads.

Shopify said the partnership allows its one million merchants to sell products in the form of "shoppable video ads".

TikTok users can click on the ad to buy the product via Shopify. The tie-up will be available first in the US, where the Chinese app has around 100 million users.

There are plans to roll out the global partnership across Europe and South East Asia early next year.

"We've seen that our community loves connecting with the brands they're passionate about," said a TikTok spokesman.

US ban

In August, Donald Trump signed executive orders against TikTok's parent company, but these have been challenged in US courts.

One of these orders forces ByteDance to sell its US operations by 12 November, one week after the presidential election, or face a ban.

A last-minute deal to sell TikTok's US business to Oracle and Walmart is currently being reviewed with question marks over what stakes the different firms will take.

In June, Walmart also partnered with Shopify to expand its online marketplace business and tap into the huge surge in online shopping during the virus pandemic.

A judge will consider on 4 November if the US government will be allowed to ban downloads of TikTok from US app stores.

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