WASHINGTON, DC, (The Herald Post) – TikTok’s chief executive, Shou Zi Chew, faced a grueling session before Congress on Thursday, as lawmakers from both parties questioned the motives of the Chinese-owned short video app, raising concerns over national security and children’s mental health.
The congressional hearing came on the heels of a week-long campaign by the Chinese company to sway American opinion and reassure lawmakers that TikTok creates economic value and upholds free speech. However, the hearing took a markedly different tone, with members of Congress accusing the company of spying, deception, and manipulation.
TikTok, which boasts over 150 million American users, found itself in the crosshairs of an increasingly skeptical Congress. Lawmakers, many of whom identified themselves as parents, highlighted the need to curtail the app’s influence over U.S. children.
Democratic Representative Tony Cardenas characterized Chew’s responses as evasive and described him as a “good dancer with words.” This sentiment was echoed by other lawmakers who found Chew’s testimony unsatisfactory.
Representative Kathy Castor, a Democrat, was particularly critical of the app’s impact on children. “TikTok could be designed to minimize the harm to kids, but a decision was made to aggressively addict kids in the name of profits,” she said during the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce committee hearing.
Chew repeatedly described the issues raised as “complex” and did not announce any new initiatives to protect user privacy. Instead, he relied on explanations of ongoing efforts, which have thus far failed to assuage critics.
Both Republicans and Democrats expressed grave concerns over the app’s potential threat to U.S. national security, specifically regarding data sharing with the Chinese government.
TikTok has previously stated that it has invested over $1.5 billion in a program called “Project Texas” to ensure rigorous data security. The company claims to have nearly 1,500 full-time employees working on this project, and it has partnered with Oracle Corp (ORCL.N) to store TikTok’s U.S. user data. Additionally, the company maintains that it strictly screens content that could be detrimental to children.
Despite these efforts, the testimony in Congress has only intensified calls for a ban on the app. As bipartisan consensus on the dangers of TikTok continues to grow, the future of the platform in the United States remains uncertain.