TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew received a verbal attack from the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday from a grieving father whose son committed suicide after watching suicidal content that he broke down in tears.
At the start of the high-profile hearing, Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers launched an attack on TikTok from Shou Zi Chew, telling the CEO, “We don’t trust TikTok to embrace American values at all.”
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew applauded, “Let me make this clear: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” applauded.
“TikTok is watching all of us, and the Chinese Communist Party is able to use this as a tool,” said Rodgers, R-Wash.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew told the House Committee on the Armed Forces hearing:
“Your platform should be banned,” Rodgers continued. “Today I would expect you to say anything to avoid this outcome, but you are 100 percent responsible for anything TikTok does.”
“The facts show that the byte dance is beholden to the Chinese Communist Party,” Rodgers said.
Ranked Democratic Representative Frank Pallone endorsed Rodgers’ attacks.
He told her, “I agree with most of what you said.”
However, Pallone seemed less inclined to dismiss the Chinese video-sharing app entirely. He said TikTok “threatens privacy and security … in its current form”.
Some panelists argued that TikTok does not adequately moderate content.
Rep. Diana Diggett, D-Colo, decried that users have not been able to access information on how to administer abortions themselves seeing Covid-19 as “misinformation” about hydroxychloroquine.
He played Representative Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla. , a group of TikToks that featured pro-suicide content. He said, “Your technology literally leads to death.”
Dean and Michelle Nasca, whose son Chase allegedly committed suicide after receiving unwanted suicide videos on TikTok, were in the room. Dean broke down in tears as clips encouraging suicide were blasted onto the screen at the hearing.
Rep. Kat Kamack, R-Fla., pulled a TikTok of someone unloading a gun and threatening the energy and commerce hearing. The video was on the platform for 41 days, but was removed after Cammack ran into the session.
“You know very well that you cannot protect the data and security of the commission or the 150 million users of your app because it is under the control of the CCP.”
At one point, Qiu was asked if parent company ByteDance had spied on Americans at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party.
Chiu replied, “I don’t think ‘espionage’ is the right way to describe it.
“Welcome to the most bipartisan committee in Congress,” said Rep. Paddy Carter, R-GA. Qiu asked if the Tiktok equivalent in China hosts “deadly challenge” videos aimed at children as the US version does.
Qiu said he did not know. ‘I heard the lady of the chair [about lying being a crime]Carter said.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is set to spend an exhausting 4.5 hours of grilling by a trade that largely believes his app spreads propaganda and poses a national security risk.
He began by denying any links between TikTok and the Chinese government.
“Let me make this very clear: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country.”
Singapore-born Chiu made four promises to the press as he walked into the listening room: “We will prioritize safety. US data firewall, protects against unwanted foreign access. Commitment to keep the application free. And fourth, we are committed to transparency.
Baloney pressed Chew about whether he could commit not to sell the data. “I think we don’t sell data to any data broker,” Chiu said.
When asked about a strong commitment that the company will not and will not do, Chiu said, “I can get back to you on the details.”
At one point Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C. The CEO asked how much money he makes. “I prefer to keep my compensation private,” he said.
Rodgers pressured Chew over reports TikTok is removing content at CCP’s request.
He played Representative Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla. , a group of TikToks that featured pro-suicide content. He said, “Your technology is literally killing me.”
Dean and Michael Nasca, whose son Chase allegedly committed suicide after receiving spam suicide videos on TikTok, interact as clips encouraging suicide were shown on screen at the hearing
House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers launched an attack on TikTok from Shou Zi Chew at the start of the high-profile hearing, telling the CEO: “We don’t trust TikTok to embrace American values at all.”
“Have any moderators been used to remove content on TikTok related to the Uyghur genocide?” she asked.
We do not remove this type of content. TikTok is a place for free speech, Chiu said.
Then I asked him if TikTok was removing content related to the massacre in Tiananmen Square. “This kind of content is on the platform,” Qiu said.
“I will remind you that it is a federal crime to make false or misleading statements to Congress,” Rodgers said.
He said, “I understand.”
Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., asked Qiu three times in a row: “Do you agree that the Chinese government has persecuted the Uyghur population?”
Chew refused to give a straight answer, instead saying he was there just to describe what TikTok does.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is set to spend an exhausting 4.5 hours of grilling by a trade that largely believes his app is a national security risk.
“TikTok is watching all of us, and the Chinese Communist Party is able to use this as a tool,” said Rodgers, RWash.
Baloni asked Chew to commit not to collect location or health data but he avoided the question.
“The problem here is that you are trying to give the impression that you are going to distance yourself from Beijing, the Communist Party, but the commitments that we are going to pursue are not being met,” Pallone told Chew.
Rodgers has called not only for a ban on TikTok but also for an increase in the data privacy bill.
“TikTok is a weapon for the Chinese Communist Party to spy on you and manipulate and exploit what you see for the sake of future generations,” she said.
“Banning is just a short-term way to deal with TikTok. And a data privacy bill is the only way to stop [a] TikTok is happening again in the US.
During the hearing, Chew promoted Project Texas, a TikTok-in-progress plan to address security and privacy concerns in the United States. But even Balloni called the Texas project “unacceptable.”
Qiu told the committee that employees of Douyin, the Chinese equivalent of TikTok, currently have access to US user data in China. He said it would be changed under the Texas project.
Critics in both parties have expressed concerns that it poses threats to national security and data privacy because parent company ByteDance is effectively controlled by the Chinese government.
The app has a few advocates in Congress despite the fact that 150 million Americans regularly use the platform
On Wednesday, three House Democrats, led by Rep. Jamal Bowman, held a press conference to defend TikTok and say it poses no more of a threat than any other social media company.
But even President Biden has endorsed the Bipartisan Restriction Act, which would allow his Commerce Department to ban foreign technology companies and encourage the intelligence community to declassify findings related to surveillance.
A number of other bipartisan banknotes that float could block the app altogether.
“Let me make this unequivocally clear: ByteDance is not a customer of China or any other country,” Xu said.
People wearing ‘Ban TikTok’ shorts arrive before TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifies
FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress late last year that the Chinese government could use it to control the data collection of millions of users or to control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used in influence operations.
He also warned that it could be used to hijack other software on the phone, which could allow it to collect and send more data.
In December, Biden signed a bipartisan bill to ban the app on government machines. His management threatened to block the app if the company’s Chinese owners did not sell their stakes.
But China announced on Thursday that it would oppose any forced sale of TikTok. China’s commerce minister has said that the sale or divestiture of TikTok would involve the export of the technology and must be approved by the Chinese government, according to the Wall Street Journal.
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