TikTok, the social-video company owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, pledged to donate $250 million in funds to support COVID-19 relief efforts as well as $125 million worth of advertising credits on the platform.
It’s the latest example of a big tech company looking to demonstrate that it’s a good corporate citizen amid the unprecedented global coronavirus, with TikTok following on the heels of efforts by Google, Facebook and Apple.
“We are committed to playing our part in that global outpouring of mutual support and giving,” TikTok president Alex Zhu wrote in a blog post. “We want to magnify all we are seeing across our community and translate it into concrete relief for those most affected by this crisis.”
Specifically, TikTok said it is provisioning $150 million in cash to go toward medical staffing, supplies and hardship relief for health care workers on local levels. For example, the company is working the CDC Foundation to donate $15 million toward supporting “surge staffing” for local response efforts through U.S. state and local health departments. Zhu said TikTok is working to distribute masks and other personal protective equipment to hospitals in countries including India, Indonesia, Italy, South Korea, and the U.S.
In addition, the company is establishing the TikTok Community Relief Fund, which will grant $40 million in cash to local organizations including musicians, artists, nurses, educators, and families that “have come together on our platform,” according to Zhu. The company is providing an additional $10 million matching in donations from TikTok users. To date, the company has donated $2 million to MusiCares.
Meanwhile, the TikTok Creative Learning Fund earmarks $50 million in cash grants to educators, professional experts, and nonprofits dedicated to distance-learning initiatives.
On the ad front, TikTok will provide $100 million in advertising credits over the next few months to small and midsize businesses. That’s to “help companies get back on their feet once economies are able to restart normal activity,” according to Zhu. The company also is giving $25 million worth of “prominent in-feed ad space” to nongovernmatal organizations, “trusted health sources” and local authorities to “share important messages with millions of people and meaningfully engage the TikTok community,” Zhu wrote.
Zhu previously co-founded lip-sync app Musical.ly, which ByteDance acquired in a reported $1 billion deal in 2017. ByteDance subsequently migrated Musical.ly’s users to TikTok.
In the past two years, TikTok has zoomed in popularity and is now among the most popular social apps. Along with its rise have come concerns about TikTok’s Chinese ownership and data-privacy issues. TikTok, whose U.S. headquarters are in Culver City, Calif., last month hired veteran cybersecurity exec Roland Cloutier to focus on “information protection” among other duties.