For months, the social media app TikTok has been the subject of scrutiny with US legislators concerned about its ties to the Chinese government and its potential impact on national security. Now, the company’s chief, Shou Zi Chew, is set to appear before Congress on Thursday to make his case for why the app should not be banned in the United States.
Chew is likely to face a tough audience. Many US politicians have expressed deep reservations about the app, citing its links to the Chinese government and its potential for data collection and manipulation. Their concerns have been exacerbated by reports that China’s government has used the app to spread propaganda and stoke political tensions.
TikTok has repeatedly denied these allegations, arguing that it operates independently of the Chinese government, and that the data it collects is used only for user experience and safety. The company has also pointed to its strong security measures, which include encryption and other safeguards, as evidence that user data is safe.
Despite these reassurances, many US legislators remain unconvinced. They argue that the app’s Chinese ownership makes it impossible to guarantee that user data will not be shared with the Chinese government, and that the app could be used for nefarious purposes.
As such, it will be up to Chew to make a convincing case to Congress that TikTok is a harmless tool for entertainment and expression, and not a tool for the Chinese government to influence US policy. The outcome of his testimony could have far-reaching implications for the app’s future in the United States – and around the world.