The ban on TikTok in the US has been delayed. Photo: CNet.

Social media app TikTok is planning to do more than just entertain users of its popular video-sharing social networking service, in an effort to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, Xinhua reported.

The Beijing-based firm owned by internet giant ByteDance is committing more than US$250 million to support frontline medical workers, educators and local communities affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

TikTok will support medical staffing, supplies and hardship relief for health care workers through the provision of US$150 million under the name Health Heroes Relief Fund, TikTok’s president Alex Zhu said in a statement.

“We understand that these are challenging times for everyone,” wrote Zhu. “Together, we will persevere through this time of crisis and emerge a better community and part of a world that we fervently hope will be more united in common purpose than it was before.”

It will also dedicate an additional US$125 million in advertising credits to public health organizations and businesses looking to rebuild, TechCrunch reported.

Some of these funds are being directed toward major health organizations, like the CDC and WHO, while other funds are aimed at helping individuals or smaller businesses, TechCrunch reported.

The US$250 million includes three separate efforts: the TikTok Health Heroes Relief Fund, TikTok Community Relief Fund and TikTok Creative Learning Fund, TechCrunch reported.

The first is the most significant effort, as it provisions $150 million in funds for things like medical staffing, supplies and hardship relief for healthcare workers, TechCrunch reported.

Included in these distributions is US$15 million to the CDC Foundation to support surge staffing for local response efforts through state and local governments, and US$10 million for the WHO Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund. 

In addition, TikTok said its employee matching program will deliver aid to organizations like the Red Cross and Direct Relief, TechCrunch reported.

TikTok also said it’s working with global and local partners to deliver masks and other personal protective equipment to hospitals in India, Indonesia, Italy, South Korea and the US, among others.

Earlier this month, TikTok announced it had donated 400,000 hazmat medical protective suits and 200,000 masks to protect doctors and front-line medical staff in India, TechCrunch reported.

The TikTok Community Relief Fund, meanwhile, is focused in particular on vulnerable communities impacted by Covid-19.

This effort involves allotting US$40 million in cash for local organizations that serve representatives of TikTok’s user community — including musicians, artists, nurses, educators and families, TechCrunch reported.

The fund has already been used to donate US$3 million to After-School All-Stars, which is providing food for families who had previously relied on school lunches, and US$2 million for MusiCares, which supports artists, songwriters and music professionals.

Over the past year and a half, TikTok, where under-60-second videos often feature bizarre memes, inside jokes, and bite-sized sketch comedy, has become the defining social media app of Gen Z, not only in the US but around the world in places like India and Europe, VOX.com reported. 

Now, it faces potentially major threats thanks to its ties to China and US government fears that its content could be compromised.

According to the New York Times, US government officials have been particularly alarmed by the implications of China’s 2017 national intelligence law, which contains sweeping language that requires companies to comply with intelligence gathering operations, if asked. Chinese officials have pushed back against these assertions, saying that companies should comply with local laws while abroad.

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