TikTok exec talks potential ban on the app and AI tools: 'We're confident in our position'

CANNES, FRANCE — Oral arguments to appeal TikTok’s ban are set to begin on Sept. 16 in the US Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

While the platform's fate is still uncertain, TikTok's president of global business solutions Blake Chandlee is not.

"We're confident in our position," Chandlee told Yahoo Finance in an interview at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. "You know, we think it's a ban. We think that from a legal perspective, that the law is with us, and we're looking forward to challenging it.”

CANNES, FRANCE - JUNE 17: Blake Chandlee, President, Global Business Solutions speaks at theTikTok press conference at Carlton Hotel on June 17, 2024 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Olivier Anrigo/Getty Images for TikTok)
Blake Chandlee, TikTok president of global business solutions, speaks at a press conference at Carlton Hotel on June 17, 2024, in Cannes, France. (Olivier Anrigo/Getty Images for TikTok) (Olivier Anrigo via Getty Images)

Despite scrutiny from US lawmakers, TikTok is continuing to innovate through collaborative efforts, and its latest launch — Symphony Digital Avatars — has artificial intelligence at the forefront. Essentially, the avatars are like you, but better.

"We think it's a huge step forward in the creative process," Chandlee said. "So we've been working with creators and with brands for a while now to make sure that we're building something that really meets their needs."

Symphony Digital Avatars are the latest in a suite of creative AI tools TikTok launched this spring aimed at scaling creator content globally.

“What we've designed avatars to do is to allow [creators] to create a piece of content and then scale that globally," he explained. "So you could create it in Spanish or in English, and you can scale it to 30 languages, which immediately gives our creator community the ability to reach audiences they've never been able to reach before."

"Similar on the graphical side of things, they can create different backgrounds, they do different things," Chandlee added, "so the idea is how do we enable and empower our creator community?"

A visitor makes a photo at the TikTok exhibition stands at the Gamescom computer gaming fair in Cologne, Germany, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022. Around 1,100 exhibitors from 53 countries expect tens of thousands gaming enthusiast daily for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic at the world's largest gaming event. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
A visitor makes a photo at the TikTok exhibition at the Gamescom computer gaming fair in Cologne, Germany, on Aug. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Overall, the creative community has a tenuous relationship with AI. Some have raised concerns over copyright issues, for instance, while others see AI as making creative tools more affordable.

Chandlee said the reaction from brands and creators to Symphony Digital Avatars has been positive so far.

Going viral in multiple languages also allows brands to leverage those moments into ad revenue by using products like TikTok Pulse for targeted placement next to brand-appropriate content. These AI tools also level the playing field on marketing costs for small, lesser-known brands to stand out.

“In the US, for example, alone, we have 7 million small businesses that use the platform to help build their business, to build their brands, to reach audiences they can't reach elsewhere," Chandlee said. "TikTok is democratizing advertising in that sense."

While TikTok is increasingly looking like an "everything app," similar to what Elon Musk has planned for X, formerly Twitter, Chanlee noted there are nuances.

"It's important to know that it's an entertainment platform today, first and foremost ... versus social platform," he said. "Now we're adding things like shopping into it and live capabilities inside of TikTok as well, which is an important part of the user experience. So we'll continue to build features and functionality and innovate to make it as important as people want in their lives."

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