TikTok loses head of US trust and safety as government weighs a ban
TikTok’s head of trust and safety for the US, Eric Han, is leaving the company on May 12th, according to two people familiar with the matter and an internal memo to employees I’ve seen.
His departure comes as TikTok is still trying to clench a deal to avoid a ban by the US government. Han has been leading TikTok’s safety teams in the US for several years, and in December, he was named the head of trust and safety for TikTok US Data Security (USDS), a separate entity created to convince the government that the app shouldn’t be banned.
In the memo to employees announcing his departure, Andy Bonillo, interim USDS general manager, said he will be “stepping in to lead USDS T&S on an interim basis” until “we identify Eric’s replacement for the longer term.” Bonillo’s title already says “interim” because the US government has yet to approve TikTok’s USDS proposal and would ultimately have the final say on who runs it. (I’ve reached out to TikTok’s communications department for comment and will update this story if I hear back.)
“Over the past four years, Eric helped safeguard our U.S. community through an incredible stage of growth,” Bonillo said in the memo. “We remain dedicated to upholding our commitments to the TikTok community – both in the U.S. and around the world – as we continue to invest in trust and safety as a cornerstone of those efforts.”
TikTok’s fate in the US feels as uncertain as ever right now, with states like Montana trying to ban the app and the bipartisan RESTRICT Act making its way through Congress. The Biden administration has sent smoke signals indicating that TikTok’s USDS proposal isn’t enough to appease its national security concerns and that it will likely demand a full divestiture of TikTok from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance. The Chinese government obviously doesn’t like that idea, which, as the saying goes, puts TikTok between a rock and a hard place.