us congress, tiktok, social media marketing, social media platform, tech, business, chinese communist party, ccp, spy, data privacy,

TikTok appears in front of US Congress – and the Congress goes viral?

Maybe TikTok’s future isn’t so dire after all if the US public is behind them. Why would the US public back the cause of a social media platform run by rich kids who could potentially be spying on them for the use of the Chinese Communist Party? Because US Congress asked very …interesting questions.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew sat in front of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and nobly kept a straight face – in fact, more appearing like a deer in headlights – as Congress hammered him with questions about the nature of the app. But rather than coming off as the stern, finger-wagging government sending a thinly veiled threat to China, that they were expecting, they came off as parents who needed their teenage child to explain to them how to use Instagram.

Some gems included:

  • “I’m deeply concerned because every time I use the Tic Tac application I am served nothing but dancing homosexuals, fluffers and drag queens. And I’d like you to explain right now how algorithms work.”
  • “Mr Chew, does TikTok access the home WiFi network?”
  • “Please rename your project. [Project Texas] is not an appropriate name. We stand for freedom and transparency and we don’t want your project.”

Say what you want about Texas, that was hardly the point of the meeting. Someone had run out of technical questions to ask. And that “Tic Tac” mention is a direct quote.

All that to be said, there were some elements of the perceived shambolic conversation that have merit, such as the idea that it brought Democrats and Republicans together in a way only the Chinese can. Mr Chew accepted that Project Texas is “a proposal which will see it store all data in the US under the watch of the American firm, Oracle”, and rarely pushed back on much but fairly pointed out that the US or UK has no leg to stand on when talking about data protection given the scandal surrounding the US-owned Facebook and the UK-owned Cambridge Analytica in 2018.

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