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Lawmakers Accuse TikTok Of Being National Security Threat, Call For Ban

TikTok CEO Shou Chew is under intense scrutiny from lawmakers who believe the Chinese-owned short video app should be banned for being a potential national security threat to the U.S.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, opened Thursday’s hearing, tearing into TikTok, telling Chew that “your platform should be banned.”

Chew defended the platform, saying that content on TikTok in the U.S. is moderated in the same way as other U.S. companies like Meta Platform’s
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YouTube. That is why some harmful content is seen and distributed on TikTok, unlike its sister platform in China, Douyin, which distributes zero harmful content, Chew explained.

ByteDance, a private company, owns both TikTok and Douyin.

Representative Frank Pallone expressed concern about the moderation practices employed by TikTok, saying that they are ignorant of the fundamental diversity, while also failing to remove harmful content like child sexual abuse material, hate speech, or domestic terrorism content.

Representative Buddy Carter raised concerns about the effect of TikTok on children, saying the Chinese Communisy Party is engaged in psychological warfare through the platform to deliberately influence U.S. children. Carter said TikTok is the most addictive platform out there, and the reason for that is because it has the most advanced algorithm.

A TikTok ban in the U.S. could have significant implications for the short-form video market.

Moody’s VP Emile El Nems said a “U.S. TikTok ban would benefit YouTube, Instagram and Snap, likely resulting in higher revenue share of the total advertising wallet.”

He continued, “given the revenue scale of YouTube and Instagram, the TikTok ban creates a smaller revenue opportunity, but it could be materially positive for Snap.”

Representatives continued to raise concerns about TikTok’s data privacy policies, including its sharing of user information with China. Chew denied that the company shares any sensitive information with China, comparing TikTok’s data collection to its U.S.-based rivals.

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