Last Thursday, Chinese video app TikTok announced that its chief operating officer V. Pappas was stepping down and the company had hired a new chief brand and communications officer and a new head of operations, the New York Times reported.
Pappas, who became TikTok’s COO in 2018 to run the platform’s North American business, is not leaving the company entirely. Instead, she will become a strategic advisor.
In her email to the company, Pappas said she was stepping down to “refocus” on her “entrepreneurial passions.”
TikTok’s current chief of staff, Adam Presser, will step into the role of head of operations.
Former global media relations chief at Disney, Zenia Mucha, will head up TikTok’s communications team.
In a statement last Thursday, TikTok CEO Shou Chew said he is confident that the company is in a “strong position” to tackle the “opportunities” at an “important time” for the company.
According to Axios, V. Pappas took over much of TikTok’s North American operations after former US CEO Kevin Mayer resigned in 2020. In this role, Pappas managed most of the company’s US public relations while dealing with the pressure the government has placed on the social media app.
Pappas has testified in congressional hearings multiple times, addressing the platform’s data security.
In September 2022, Pappas told lawmakers that TikTok has “strict access controls” to protect the data accessed in the US. However, one former employee from TikTok’s parent company ByteDance alleged that the access controls were weaker than the company claimed.
In March, Pappas was asked on Twitter if she would “personally condemn” the genocide of Uyghurs in China.
In a one-word reply, Pappas said, “Yes.”
The changes in TikTok leadership come at a time when the social media platform is facing tremendous pressure over questions about its privacy and data practices and its connection to the Chinese Communist regime.
Several US states have taken steps to ban the use of the app on government-supplied devices over privacy and national security concerns.