TikTok’s COO is leaving their role at the company

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TikTok’s longstanding COO V Pappas just announced plans to leave their executive role at the company.

Pappas, who previously held positions as the global head of creative insights and audience development at YouTube, has been with TikTok for nearly five years. According to LinkedIn, Pappas first joined TikTok parent company ByteDance as a strategic advisor in November 2018.

“Given all the successes reached at TikTok, I finally feel the time is right to move on and refocus on my entrepreneurial passions,” Pappas wrote on Twitter. “… It has been an exhilarating ride with so many celebratory milestones, moments and industry ‘firsts.’”

The same day that Pappas went public with their plans to leave the company, TikTok announced it has hired Zenia Mucha, a storied spokesperson who defended Disney and shaped its messaging for two decades. At TikTok, Mucha will serve as the company’s chief brand and communications officer — a new role with its work cut out for it, given TikTok’s existential dance with U.S. regulators.

Pappas, who came out as nonbinary earlier this year and uses she and they pronouns, said that they plan to stay on at TikTok in an advisory role as the company stabilizes in light of the departure.

Pappas has grown into one of the most visible public faces at TikTok. Their appearance in a Senate hearing late last year was a milestone for the company, which is now in the regulatory hot seat in the U.S. and sharing broader scrutiny of social media with companies like Meta.

Earlier this year, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before Congress for the first time in an effort to quell ongoing concerns around the company’s privacy and data sharing practices. TikTok survived a pair of intense congressional hearings without any huge missteps, but the company is likely to remain under the magnifying glass in the U.S. This week, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) published a letter from the company responding to a number of questions about where and how TikTok’s data is stored that shed new light on the company’s practices. In the letter, TikTok criticizes “mischaracterizations in recent media reports,” but appears to confirm their findings.

After long insisting that all of TikTok’s data on American users is never stored in China, home of TikTok parent company ByteDance, the company admitted that it does store data on the many creators who push engaging content to the app on servers based in China. That data includes participants in its creator fund and contains Social Security numbers and tax forms, according to reporting by Forbes.

The company is clearly trying to draw a semantic line here between its users and its creators, but that boundary is regularly blurred across modern social platforms, including TikTok.

This story is developing…

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