“If you don’t know what TikTok is, you should,” said Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) at a recent hearing.
TikTok is a China-built video-sharing app that was introduced to the United States in 2017. The app has been downloaded more than 1.3 billion times worldwide, including 110 million in the US.
TikTok is “so popular among teens that Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly spooked,” said Hawley.
In September, China was accused of blocking footage of the protests in Hong Kong from appearing on TikTok. Critics worry the app is bringing China-style censorship to a young Western audience.
“A company compromised by the Chinese Communist Party knows where your children are,” says Hawley. “Knows what they look like, what their voices sound like, what they’re watching, and what they share with each other.”
TikTok is a “potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore,” wrote Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
After refusing to attend a Senate Judiciary hearing on big data and China held November 5th, TikTok US general manager Vanessa Pappas sent a letter to lawmakers regarding the company’s independence from Beijing:
“No governments, foreign or domestic, direct how we moderate TikTok content,” wrote Pappas, adding that TikTok does not store US user data in China. “TikTok does not remove content based on sensitivities related to China (or other countries). We have never been asked by the Chinese government to remove any content, and we would not do so if asked.”
As Hawley points out, a Chinese cybersecurity law that takes effect in January forces all Chinese companies to give Beijing access to data if requested.
“All it takes is one knock on the door of their parent company, based in China, from a Communist Party official, for that data to be transferred to the Chinese Government’s hands whenever they need it.”
Hawley wants to see TikTok officials testify under oath to reveal the true ambitions of the company, and says Congress may be forced to issue a subpoena. “The threat isn’t just to children’s privacy, it’s a threat to our national security.”
Author’s Note: Hawley makes a good point here. TikTok says it is independent of Beijing, but nobody believes that. TikTok is used almost exclusively by kids, which means China knows where your kids are and controls what they are watching.
Editor’s Note: China does indeed control the content, anything anti-China is cut out, and any agenda that China has is pushed, directly or indirectly.