TikTok's Struggle to Convince American Lawmakers
Shou Zi Chew's testimony concluded a week of actions by TikTok aimed at persuading Americans and their lawmakers that the app creates economic value and supports free speech. Despite these efforts, lawmakers remained skeptical and concerned about the app's influence over American children.
Concerns about Children's Mental Health and Addiction
Representative Kathy Castor criticized TikTok for prioritizing profits over children's well-being, accusing the platform of aggressively addicting children. Republicans and Democrats also expressed concerns about the app's potential threat to US national security through data sharing with the Chinese government.
TikTok's Investment in Data Security and Content Screening
In response to these concerns, TikTok claims to have spent over $1.5 billion on data security measures under "Project Texas" and partnered with Oracle Corp to store US user data. The company also asserts it rigorously screens content that could harm children. Lawmakers, however, found these responses needed to be revised.
TikTok's Efforts to Combat Misinformation
Representative Diana DeGette questioned TikTok's efforts to prevent misinformation on the platform and protect young users. Chew responded by stating that the company was investing in content moderation and artificial intelligence to limit the spread of harmful content. However, DeGette found these actions inadequate, demanding more concrete solutions for the safety of American parents and their children.
US Social Media Stocks Rise Amid TikTok Controversy
As TikTok faced scrutiny during the congressional hearing, shares of US social media companies, such as Meta Platforms Inc and Snap Inc, rose. Analyst Dan Ives characterized TikTok CEO's testimony as a "mini disaster," highlighting the company's position as a focal point in US-China tensions.
Accusations of Data Manipulation and Chinese Influence
Committee chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers accused TikTok of collecting extensive user data and questioned the platform's commitment to American values. Chew defended the company, stating that they do not promote or remove content at the request of the Chinese government and are committed to keeping the platform free from manipulation by any government.
Lawmakers Push for TikTok Ban
Despite Chew's statements, many US lawmakers continue to call for a ban on TikTok. Last week, TikTok revealed that the Biden administration demanded the company's Chinese owners divest their stakes or face a potential ban. In response, China's Ministry of Commerce warned that such actions could damage investor confidence and emphasized the need for proper legal procedures.