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Potential TikTok ban sends advertisers scrambling

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March 23 (Reuters) – Advertisers are seeking any assurances from TikTok, the viral app that helped usher in a wave of short-form video across social media, as the Chinese-owned company again faces a potential ban in the U.S. over national security concerns.

When TikTok’s Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew testifies before Congress for the first time on Thursday, advertisers will be closely watching his appearance for news as well as the reaction of lawmakers, several ad agencies told Reuters.

TikTok’s U.S. ad revenue is expected to reach $6.83 billion this year, from $780 million in 2020, according to research firm Insider Intelligence. The app, which is owned by China’s ByteDance and is wildly popular among younger users, now has 150 million monthly users in the U.S., it said on Tuesday.

The company faces growing calls from lawmakers who are pressuring the Biden administration to ban the app over concerns that Americans’ user data could fall into the hands of the Chinese government.

In recent discussions with ad buyers, TikTok representatives have stuck to the company’s current talking points. TikTok employees have played up ongoing plans to separate the user data of Americans and store it in the country. The data will be housed in a new division called U.S. Data Security (USDS), which will be monitored by U.S. tech company Oracle, an effort dubbed Project Texas.

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