On Thursday, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee to discuss the future of the platform in the United States. A day later, Chew has followed up on that hearing with his own video, reiterating some of what took place.
The hearing stemmed from supposed national security concerns congress has about the data TikTok collects from users and how said data could potentially be accessed by the Chinese government because of the company’s ties to the country.
The lengthy hearing built-up frustration on both sides, as representatives clearly had a vital lack of understanding on how technology and apps work, such as asking if Tik-Tok accesses your Wi-Fi network. On the flip side, Chew himself was intentionally vague on many answers, especially when it came to core topics like TikTok’s income and finances. A big point highlighted by the CEO was that TikTok now has over 150 million U.S. users, which Chew argued enmeshes the app into American culture and enriches lives.
Chew has re-iterated that fact with his video posted on Tik-Tok today, also laying out the company’s key commitments to keeping the data of users safe. Chew says these commitments are,
- 1 – We will continue to keep safety, especially for teenagers, a top priority.
- 2 – We will continue to protect your data from unauthorized foreign access. (American data will be stored on American soil, by an American company, overseen by American personnel.)
- 3 – We will ensure that TikTok remains a platform for free expression and that it cannot be manipulated by ANY government.
- 4- We will be transparent, and give access to third-party independent monitors to keep us accountable for our commitment
Chew is clearly trying to come out of the hearing strong, but at the moment, it’s unclear how TikTok’s future will be affected in the U.S. At the moment, Congress hasn’t announced any plans or further legislation stemming from the hearing. At the same time, most of the questions from the hearing actually raised questions about regulating content on social media platforms rather than banning TikTok specifically.
On this point, both Republicans and Democrats are uncharacteristically united, as Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) said, “Welcome to the most bipartisan committee in Congress. We may not always agree on how to get there, but we care about our national security, we care about our economy, and we sure as heck care about our children.”
TikTok is, of course, not nearly the only social media platform that collects copious amounts of user data, and shares said data with dozens of third parties. Other CES, like Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, have also testified before Congress in the past. It remains to be seen, however, if TikTok will simply be more regulated due to its ties to China or if an outright ban could actually happen.