TikTok Plans Major Layoffs Across Its Global Employees

By: Georgia | Published: May 23, 2024

Big news from TikTok—they’re cutting a “large percentage” of their global workforce. 1,000 employees are set to be laid off as part of a larger restructuring, impacting mostly those in user operations, content, and marketing. 

This move marks a significant shift for the social media giant, signaling deep organizational changes ahead.

Overhaul of Global User Operations Team

In a bold move, TikTok plans to dismantle its global user operations team entirely. 

Smartphone screen showing a TikTok profile page with various video thumbnails

Source: Nik/Unsplash

The employees who dodge the layoffs will find new homes in other departments like trust and safety, marketing, and content. This shuffle not only changes faces in cubicles but also signals a strategic pivot in how TikTok manages its internal operations.


Layoffs Break in the News

The initial buzz about TikTok’s job cuts broke via The Information, stirring up the media pot.

Close-up view of a smartphone screen displaying the TikTok app icon among other app icons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Since the news surfaced, TikTok has clammed up, offering no comment or details on the record. The silence leaves many employees and onlookers hanging on for official word.

How Employees Found Out

Some of TikTok’s team learned about the layoffs not from a rumor mill but directly from the top brass.

A large crowd of visitors around a TikTok promotional booth at a public event

Source: Wikimedia Commons

After The Information’s report went live, Adam Presser and Zenia Mucha, big names at TikTok, broke the news to their teams on a Tuesday evening.

Shuffling the Deck Inside TikTok

It’s not just about cuts; it’s about realignment. As the global operations team dissolves, TikTok isn’t just showing people the door. 

A smartphone held in hand displaying the search results for TikTok in an app store

Source: Nik/Unsplash

Many are being redirected to roles where they can hopefully shine anew, in departments like trust and safety and marketing. It’s all about placing the right talent in the right spots as the company reshapes.

A Shift from TikTok's Usual Practices

It is unusual for TikTok to undertake such extensive layoffs

Silhouette of a hand holding up a smartphone with the TikTok logo illuminated on the screen

Source: Solen Feyissa/Unsplash

The company is known for avoiding the large-scale reductions that have become common in other tech firms. Current employees highlight this as a rare move for the company, pointing to the extraordinary circumstances influencing this decision.


The Impending Deadline for ByteDance

A new law signed last month by President Biden sets a deadline for ByteDance. 

President Joe Biden walking past a sign reading "Investing in America" at an event in Durham, NC, with American flags in the background

Source: POTUS/X

The company must sell TikTok to a U.S.-based entity by January 19 to avoid the app being banned and removed from major app stores like those operated by Apple and Google.


The White House's Stance on Ownership

The White House has expressed a desire to end Chinese-based ownership of TikTok on national security grounds, but it has stated it does not wish to see the platform banned completely. 

Front view of the White House with its iconic columns and windows, under a clear sky

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This position reflects a nuanced approach to addressing security concerns while considering the platform’s widespread popularity.


Creators Fight Back with Legal Action

TikTok’s influencers aren’t just sitting back and watching.

A person recording a woman dancing, using a smartphone camera, with confetti in the air

Source: Amanda Vick/Unsplash

Last week, a group hit the courts trying to block the new legislation, arguing in a lawsuit that TikTok is indispensable for their personal and community expression. 


A History of Legal Defiance

This isn’t TikTok creators’ first rodeo in the courtroom. They’ve been active before, challenging previous attempts to ban the platform in 2020 and fighting a state-level ban in Montana. 

Close-up of a hand holding a smartphone displaying the TikTok logo, with blurred people and indoor background

Source: Olivier Bergeron/Unsplash

Their continued legal efforts highlight their dedication to keeping TikTok operational in the U.S.


ByteDance’s Constitutional Counter

ByteDance isn’t just watching from the sidelines either. They’ve launched a lawsuit claiming that the new U.S. law infringes on the First Amendment among other constitutional rights.

Exterior view of ByteDance headquarters, a modern multi-story office building in Beijing, with people and traffic in front

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This legal challenge is a bold move against the federal push to regulate the app, illustrating the high stakes involved.


The Uncertain Road Ahead for TikTok

As legal battles and operational overhauls unfold, TikTok’s future in the U.S. hangs in the balance. The outcomes of these legal fights and how well ByteDance can navigate the January deadline will be pivotal.

Close-up of a smartphone screen showing the TikTok app icon next to other app icons

Source: Solen Feyissa/Unsplash

The next few months are crucial as TikTok faces one of its most challenging periods in the American market.