Marcos Asks TikTok to Help Philippine Retailers Promote Products

(Bloomberg) — Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has asked TikTok Inc. to help mom-and-pop stores promote their products to the social media platform’s millions of users.

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Marcos wants the video app to train local sellers, especially those in rural areas, to market their offerings, his communication office said in a statement after he met with TikTok Chief Executive Officer Chew Zi Shou in San Francisco.

“We have a lot of this in Vietnam, a lot of this in Indonesia, a lot of this in Malaysia,” Chew said in the statement. “Give it a platform to sell around the country and export around the world. That’s the plan.”

Owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., TikTok in April last year started shopping platform TikTok Shop, which has emerged as a threat to e-commerce players like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.-backed Lazada and Sea Ltd.’s Shopee. It has faced a backlash in other Southeast Asian markets, with Indonesia imposing regulatory curbs and Malaysia questioning its legal compliance and urging the platform to do more to curb fake news.

There are guidelines “to keep people civil and keep the platform safe,” Chew said, adding that TikTok has a team to moderate content. For Marcos, it’s sometimes difficult to differentiate “what is just a strong opinion as against what is considered as fake news,” according to the statement.

The son of a former dictator bearing the same name, Marcos was elected in May 2022 after running a campaign where social media platforms including Tiktok further boosted his popularity at a time when reliance on smartphone-delivered opinion was supercharged by the pandemic. More than two-thirds of Filipinos have internet access and they are more active on social media than in other Southeast Asian countries, according to We Are Social and Hootsuite.

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