TikTok CEO Shou Chew recently made his first appearance before Congress, where he was grilled for over five hours by lawmakers. The hearing allowed the public to hear from Chew, who is known for offering very few interviews. Chew was questioned about TikTok’s attempts to protect US user data and ease concerns about its ties to China. Here are the five biggest takeaways from the hearing:
Washington is ready to crack down on TikTok:
The hearing began with calls from lawmakers to ban the app in the US. The bipartisan push to crackdown on the popular short-form video app was evident throughout the hearing.
TikTok’s ties to China remain a concern:
Despite Chew’s attempts to stress TikTok’s independence from China and play up its US ties, many members of Congress remain skeptical. Chew’s assurance that his company is not an arm of the Chinese government appeared to fall on deaf ears. Several members of Congress expressed concerns that TikTok was being used by the Chinese Communist Party to spy on US citizens.
TikTok CEO stresses its practices are no different than US tech giants:
Chew emphasized that the data TikTok collects is data “that’s frequently collected by many other companies in our industry.” Independent researchers have backed Chew’s assertions.
TikTok’s impact on children a key point of focus:
Multiple lawmakers highlighted concerns about TikTok’s impact on children. Some lawmakers accused TikTok of promoting videos that create emotional distress, including videos promoting suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders.
TikTok’s commitment to user privacy:
Chew talked up TikTok’s ongoing efforts to protect US user data and stressed that the company has “never provided” data to the Chinese government. Chew also said that TikTok is committed to being transparent with users about what data is collected.
Overall, the hearing made it clear that Washington is ready to crack down on TikTok, and that concerns about the company’s ties to China remain a key issue. Despite Chew’s assurances, lawmakers remain skeptical about the company’s commitment to user privacy. TikTok’s impact on children is also a concern for lawmakers. However, Chew emphasized that TikTok’s practices are no different than those of other tech giants, and independent researchers have backed his assertions.